Two of the most hyped No. 1 picks in NBA History could be taking the court against each other for the first time in what can only be billed as a clash of titans with the San Antonio Spurs heading to Bourbon Street to take on the New Orleans Pelicans, with the home side a heavy NBA odds favorite.
Seeing Victor Wembanyama go head-to-head with Zion Williamson would be like watching Mothra take on Godzilla in the paint, an image everyone can appreciate. But unfortunately, with Wemby a game-time decision, we may not get to see them duel it out. That sets the Pelicans up for an important win on Williamson’s back.
Find out where my best bets lie in our NBA picks and predictions for Spurs vs. Pelicans on Friday, December 1.
Spurs vs Pelicans odds
Spurs vs Pelicans predictions
The Pelicans are hanging on for dear life in the West with a 0.5-game lead on the Houston Rockets for the eighth seed. A healthy Zion Williamson can propel them even further and is coming off a dominant performance in a win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
It was the perfect reminder that while enigmatic at times — with the amount of games he’s missed in his first five seasons — he has the ability to take over games and can be the best player on the court almost any given night.
With the Spurs’ struggles this season — they’re 3-15 and on a 13-Game losing streak — and the potential of Wemby not suiting up, Williamson has the opportunity to far exceed his 24.5-point line.
Against the 76ers on Thursday night, he flexed his muscles by dropping 33 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and three steals while going an obnoxious 11 of 12 from both the floor and free-throw line
After the game, Williamson sounded confident about the direction New Orleans is heading with him leading the way.
“I don't think we have a ceiling... We just need to become elite with the small nuances of the game,” he said in the post-game press conference.
The small nuances were certainly there for him against Philly and he looked as good as ever. After only playing 29 games the previous two seasons, he’s suited up for 15 this year and he’s averaging 24 points per game while hitting 56% of his field goals on 16.7 attempts per game.
While he’s missed four Games this season, when he’s been on the court, the team runs through him. Williamson has the 15th-highest usage rate in the NBA among players who have played at least 15 Games (29.1%) and is second on the team in shots per Game (16.7) and first in free throws (7.6).
So far this season, he’s scored at least 25 points in seven of 15 games and has gone Over 24.5 points in his last six outings. Over that stretch, he’s averaging 28 points per game and hitting 10.8 baskets on 17 shots per game (63.7%) while adding six free throws on 8.3 attempts from the line (72.2%).
This matchup against the Spurs lends well to Williamson and the Pelicans, who average the 10th-most paint points per game in the NBA (52.4) behind the former Duke star’s 18.7, second-most in the NBA, behind only Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Even with Wemby’s length and shot-blocking ability, he leads the league with 2.7 per game, San Antonio has given up the 10th most paint points per game in the NBA with 51.7. While we’d all love to see Williamson use his defensive lineman-like size and power to back down the rookie, if Victor Wembanyama doesn’t play, Zion will have an even easier opportunity to hit 25 points.
Wemby or not, the Spurs have struggled to slow power forwards this season, giving up the eighth-most points per game to them (25.5) and Zion should have every opportunity to exceed that number with how hot he’s been lately.
My best bet: Zion Williamson Over 24.5 points (-110 at bet365)
Spurs vs Pelicans same-game parlay
Zion Williamson Over 24.5 points
Zion Williamson Over 6.5 rebounds
Brandon Ingram Over 1.5 threes made
If Wemby isn’t playing, Zion will have a monster opportunity to rack up rebounds, but even if the rookie does suit up, the Spurs are allowing the fifth-most opponent rebounds per game this season (54.6).
Despite Williamson not necessarily being the most dominant rebounder, he’s averaged 6.8 per game in his career and had at least seven in six games this season. The Spurs have also been giving up 10.2 rebounds per game to power forwards.
A healthy Zion is great for Brandon Ingram too, who has the 13th-highest usage rate in the NBA among players who have played at least 15 games (29.4%). He’s Mr. Consistent in the Crescent City, averaging over 22 points per game for the fifth straight season (24 per game this year).
While his 3-point percentage is down this season (30.6%), Ingram is still taking 4.5 per game and hitting 1.4. He’s hit at least two threes in five of 16 games this season, but the Spurs are among the worst at defending behind the arc. They’ve allowed the second-highest 3-point percentage in the league (39.9%) and the eighth-most threes to shooting guards (3.46 per game)
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Spurs vs Pelicans spread and Over/Under analysis
The Pelicans opened between 12.5 and 13.5 point home favorites and have stayed solid. Some books are offering the Spurs at +103.
San Antonio has been one of the worst teams ATS this season going 7-11, but have covered in three of their last four games. New Orleans on the other hand is an impressive 11-7-1 and has gone 7-2 ATS in its last nine.
The total opened between 232.5 and 233.5 with most books coming up to 235.5. The Spurs are the second-best Over team in the league this season going 13-5, however, the Pelicans are 8-11 betting the Over.
Spurs vs Pelicans betting trend to know
The Spurs have hit the Over in 51 of their last 75 games (+25.70 Units / 31% ROI). Find more NBA betting trends for Spurs vs. Pelicans.
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Spurs vs Pelicans game info
|Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA
|Friday, December 1, 2023
|8:00 p.m. ET
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