Pelicans-Nuggets Betting Guide: Can New Orleans Hang Without Anthony Davis?

Pelicans-Nuggets Betting Guide: Can New Orleans Hang Without Anthony Davis? article feature image
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Photos from USA Today Sports. Pictured: Jrue Holiday and Jamal Murray

Betting odds: New Orleans Pelicans at Denver Nuggets

  • Spread: Nuggets -9
  • Over/Under: 229.5
  • Time: 9 p.m. ET

>> All odds as of 2 p.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NBA odds and track your bets


Two of the most exciting, up-and-coming teams in the West, the Pelicans and Nuggets, will face off in Denver tonight. The Pels are coming off a blowout loss to the Jazz without superstar Anthony Davis, who is out again tonight. What’s his value to this team and the spread? Our analysts discuss.


Injury Watch: Anthony Davis

DFS: Davis and Darius Miller (quad) have both been ruled out of Monday’s contest vs. the Nuggets, while Julius Randle (foot) remains probable.

Jrue Holiday has seen the biggest bump with Davis off the floor this season, increasing his usage rate by +4.7%. He’s been plagued by some awful shooting numbers to start the season, but he still seems like a major value at $6,700 on DraftKings.

Randle will likely enter the starting lineup, although he played just 18.5 minutes with Davis out of the lineup in the Pelicans’ last game. That said, that game turned into a blowout quickly, so he should see more minutes if today’s game stays competitive.

Unfortunately, their matchup vs. the Nuggets is a difficult one: Denver ranks third in defensive efficiency to begin the season. This game isn’t guaranteed to stay competitive with Davis out of the lineup. — Matt LaMarca

Betting: Based on our proprietary power ratings, which update every Tuesday, we have the Nuggets as about 4- to 4.5-point favorites at home against the Pelicans. That assumes Davis is healthy, however, and oddsmakers have said that Brow is worth about five points to the spread. — Bryan Mears


Locky: What Is Davis Worth to the Spread?

Davis is out, which makes this a weird spot. It’s worth revisiting the value of a player to a team. There are general conversations all the time in the NFL like this — something such as “what’s Aaron Rodgers worth? How many points to the spread?”

Comparing the NFL to the NBA, there are a lot of extra variables to consider. When Rodgers misses a game, although having a solid running game will help whoever the backup is, that’s basically 60 minutes of Rodgers becoming 60 minutes of DeShone Kizer or 60 minutes of backup QB X.

It’s a straight swap. And the drop-off will be massive no matter what. On the other hand, when a star player in the NBA misses a game, sometimes the usage and minutes can drift into places where the drop-off isn’t quite as massive.

When Kawhi Leonard sits out for rest, and the Raptors play Fred VanVleet, C.J. Miles and Norman Powell more (and Kyle Lowry’s usage goes up), that’s actually not that bad. Those are three rotation-level NBA players who would get minutes on almost every other team. The offensive and defensive efficiency ratings of that Toronto team would actually be pretty good.

The problem for New Orleans, however, is what happens when Davis is out. New Orleans isn’t a particularly deep team anyway, and this particular Pelicans team as we sit on Oct. 29 has no depth at all.

Payton and Miller are out with all likelihood (Payton tried to play against Utah in New Orleans’ last game but it didn’t go well), and Randle continues to play through a plantar fascia injury that (I think) restricts his usage, and he hasn’t played more than 24 minutes in a game yet this season.

So where do the minutes go? You see more Ian Clark. You see more of Solomon Hill (but just a little more, he was already playing a good amount in some cases). You see a lot more of Johnson, and you see a lot more of Okafor. Yikes. Bear in mind Payton at least started last game and played 16 minutes, so now you’re digging really deeply.

All this is my way of saying that you almost can’t open this number high enough if Davis sits out. I would bet Denver at anything below about 9-9.5, but I could see projections being created where numbers even higher would appear valuable. — Ken Barkley


Mears: A Word on How Books Rate Players

I think Locky is exactly right here. Per Cleaning the Glass, the Pelicans have been an astounding 35.0 points per 100 possessions better with Davis on the floor this season versus him off. That obviously includes a blowout loss and a small sample size, but over the past two seasons, the Pelicans have been 9.4 and 9.7 points/100 worse with him off versus on. There’s a reason he’s one of the frontrunners to be MVP; he’s incredibly valuable.

Player value to the spread is an interesting debate, and I’ll offer one quick musing on the topic. Sportsbooks aren’t necessarily inclined to peg the true value of a player in a spread. Rather, they’re trying to set a line that gets two-way action. Thus, if two-way action means Davis is worth two points or eight points, that’s where the books will be.

Of course, you could argue that the market is efficient and properly pegs the value of each player because of the sheer size of the NBA betting market. However, if that was always true, I’d argue valuable role players such as Andre Roberson for the Thunder — OKC was 7.1 points per 100 possessions worse without him on the floor last season — should affect the spread, even if it’s just a point or so.

But that doesn’t happen, which means there could be an edge in correctly identifying a player’s true value — not just where the line ends up. Is it already baked into the spread? Possibly. But it also might not be, as Locky mentioned above. — Bryan Mears


Betting Trends to Know

In their last game on Saturday, the Pelicans lost to the Jazz, 132-111. Teams that lost their previous game by 20 or more points and then are facing an opponent that has won 70% or more of its games (such as the Nuggets) have gone 159-125-6 (56%) ATS since 2005. — John Ewing

The Denver Nuggets are coming off their first loss of the season on the road against the Lakers. Their offense played well in that game, posting 114 points on 50% shooting. In Mike Malone’s career as a head coach with the Kings and Nuggets (since 2013-14), his teams have gone 11-6 ATS (64.7%) the game after shooting at least 50% from the field in a straight-up loss, covering the spread by 3.4 PPG and profiting bettors 4.6 units. Since 2013-14, he is the second-most profitable coach in the NBA.

New Orleans has struggled defensively early in games without Davis. In the Pelicans’ last four games without Davis dating back to December of last season, they are allowing 63.8 PPG in the first halves of games.

Did You Know? The Pelicans have faced the Nuggets 14 times since the start of the 2014-15 season. New Orleans is 2-9 SU and ATS when Davis has played and 3-0 SU and ATS when he hasn’t.

The Nuggets will have some time to think about their loss to the Lakers — four days to be exact. Under Malone, the Nuggets are 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS at home with at least four days between games, winning straight up by 17.8 PPG. Malone was hired in 2015-16 and is just one of two head coaches to be undefeated in that spot with a minimum of four games played (Nate McMillan is 5-0 SU). — Evan Abrams


Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.