The New Orleans Pelicans have made a lot of changes this offseason and the sports books have taken notice.
The Pelicans went 31-41 last season on their way to finishing in 11th place, just outside of the play-in tournament.
Among fans and media, there is fierce debate about whether the Pelicans have improved, but there is no debate among casinos and sports books, as they all predict the Pelicans will win more games next season.
The Pelicans are younger, faster and will have a new style under head coach Willie Green than they did with Stan Van Gundy, who played slow-pace isolation ball that wasn’t much fun to watch.
Like me, the sports books think the Pels are going to improve, but did they set the over/under too high?
New Orleans Pelicans: Over/under for wins
I looked at several betting sites to get a consensus of the over/under for the Pelicans’ win total. The average came out to 40.5 wins.
So the books think the Pels are going to win nine more games than they did last season, which is a pretty dramatic increase considering they haven’t really added a big name.
But this roster is more about fit, as guys like Jonas Valanciunas, Devonte’ Graham and Naji Marshall are better fits around Zion Williamson than the guys they shipped away, particularly Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe.
This could also be due to changes in their division, as the Southwest has not gotten much better. I’d say Dallas and Memphis stayed about the same while the Spurs and Rockets both look to be rebuilding, though both have some very good young talent.
40 wins would have been good for the 8th seed last season, so if the Pelicans can improve that much, they should be in good shape to at least make the play-in tournament, which should be the minimum goal for this season.
National media might not be giving the Pelicans much love, but the sports books have paid attention to the improvements the Pels have made and expect them to translate into a playoff berth next season.
But keep in mind that betting sharps set these lines to promote maximum bets on both sides, so they might be trying to prey upon overly optimistic Pels’ fans (are there any?) who think the Pels will make a big leap.
I think this is set slightly too high given the competitiveness of the West, as there will be a lot of teams bunched in that 37-39 win range and the Pels could be one of them.