The New Orleans Pelicans are 45/1 outsiders to win the Western Conference next season despite signing the outrageously promising Zion Williamson in the draft.
<div><p>The Pelicans were dealt a hammer blow when star player Anthony Davis requested a transfer in February. General manager Dell Demps was axed after failing to push through a move for the six-time NBA All-Star and the franchise was plunged into chaos. Yet despair soon turned to joy as the Pelicans defied the odds to win the first overall pick in the draft lottery. That is always cause for celebration, but it was ramped up enormously this year due to the presence of once-in-a-generation star Williamson.</p><p>Many are tipping him to become the next LeBron James after witnessing his utterly devastating performances at Duke. The 6ft 7ins Williamson can play at small forward and power forward and he has been described as the best college basketball player in at least a decade. People across New Orleans have been lighting candles with him depicted as a saint and the city is abuzz with talk of how he will lead them into a glorious new era. Yet it might not be an overnight fix.</p><h2>Lakers Expected to Dominate Next Season</h2><p>The Pelicans finished 13<sup>th</sup> in the Western Conference standings last season, with a poor 33-49 record. They have now lost Davis as he has gone to the LA Lakers, with Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and four draft picks heading to New Orleans in exchange. Ball was the second draft pick in 2017 after Markelle Fultz went to Philadelphia. His fledgling career has been blighted by injuries, but he is another extremely promising player and he could form a magnificent partnership with Williamson, while Ingram also looks on the verge of an All-Star campaign.</p><p>They look like an instant playoff team, but the bookmakers do not give them much chance of challenging for the Western Conference title. <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=bf7f64f4-cd67-4904-9b00-6ded1d41fd18&f=1" target="_blank" title="Bet365">Bet365</a> has made them 45/1 underdogs, while the Lakers are the 6/4 favourites after snapping up Davis. The prospect of him lining up alongside the legendary LeBron is dizzyingly tantalising for Lakers fans and LA could be on the verge of a new super team. The Golden State Warriors have won the Western Conference for the last five years in a row, but they are now out at 5/1 after their NBA Finals woes and Kevin Durant’s injury. The Lakers are pushing for Kemba Walker too and they are now the 7/2 favourites to win the NBA Championship next year.</p></div>