Pelicans vs. Grizzlies Odds, Pick, Prediction: Target This Jaren Jackson Jr. Prop (December 31)

Pelicans vs. Grizzlies Odds, Pick, Prediction: Target This Jaren Jackson Jr. Prop (December 31) article feature image

Justin Ford/Getty Images. Pictured: Jaren Jackson Jr.

Pelicans vs. Grizzlies Odds

Pelicans Odds+6
Grizzlies Odds-6
Time8 p.m. ET
TVNBA League Pass
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

Any NBA fan has to be at least a bit interested in Saturday night's marquee New Year Eve matchup between the top two picks of the 2019 Draft. Zion Williamson and Ja Morant will square off when the New Orleans Pelicans (23-12) meet the Memphis Grizzlies (21-13).

Both players have very quickly established not just their own bona fides, but their team's winning prowess, with the Pelicans and Grizzlies both bringing fun, energetic, team-oriented basketball to their respective small southern markets.

Morant and Williamson are arguably two of the five most marketable players in the league right now, and a possible long-term rivalry for us all to enjoy over the next 15 years.

Since any true fan of the NBA will be tuning in, let's find a way to have a little cash on the side to enjoy this showdown even more.

New Orleans Pelicans

The Pellies head to Memphis sporting a shiny new five-game winning streak, their second such streak of the past 35 days — not bad for a team many expected to be closer to the play-in range than the top of the West.

However, thanks to some excellent coaching, impressive depth, and the continued health of Williamson, that's exactly where the Pelicans find themselves on Saturday, in a tie atop the very crowdedWestern Conference.

New Orleans owns both the sixth-best offense and the sixth-best defense in the NBA this season — the only team in the top six on both sides of the ball as of right now. As a result, the Pelicans have the second-best net rating in all of basketball, trailing only the Boston Celtics.

They have had all this success despite their best player last season, Brandon Ingram, missing the past 16 games, and several player being in and out of the lineup on a nightly basis. However, their impressive depth and elite coaching from Willie Green and his staff have been able to navigate all these obstacles to just put up win after win.

The team excels at getting to the free-throw line (second in FTA per game), forcing turnovers (second in steals per game), and they have the second-lowest percentage allowed on 3-point attempts. They also clean the glass really well at both ends, and they have incredibly strong defenders to slot on to other teams best guards (Jose Alvarado) and wings (Herb Jones).

They sometimes struggle with the math problem, as they take the fifth-fewest threes per game, but their 3-point defense and free-throw advantage (three points a game) help to mitigate that difference.

Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies come into Saturday's night's showdown as healthy as they have been all season.

Notably, for the first 30 games of the season, the team hadn't played a single minute with all three of Morant, Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. on the court at the same time.

The last four games have seen all three finally share the court together, and while having all three get continued minutes together raises their ceiling immensely, they clearly have had some early kinks to work out with all their best players finally around.

They went 2-2 in those games, splitting a pair with the Suns, while losing to the Warriors and defeating the Raptors. The good news is that the most recent outing was the best, with Bane's shot finally falling (he went 3-of-7 from deep after going 2-of-19 in his first three games back), Jackson scoring 15 and nabbing two blocks (and only one foul!) in 29 minutes, and Morant enjoying having all his toys back en route to a career-high 17 assists.

When Taylor Jenkins and co. envision a deep playoff run, that's not a bad recipe.

Driving the Grizzlies' success this season has been an elite defense on two-point field goals (an NBA-best 50.6 percent allowed) and relentless work on the boards — sound familiar?

Yes, these two teams are similar beyond just the "small southern market team with a top-two pick from the 2019 draft leading them to early career success" whole dealio. Both teams thrive in the paint on both ends and rely on strong depth and effort to grind out regular season win after regular season win.

It's just another reason this game should be so fun to watch.

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Pelicans-Grizzlies Pick

So should we just toss up our hands and enjoy watching the game? That's certainly one option, but I do think there's actually a solid edge to be had here.

It's not on the spread, where the -6 or -6.5 you'll find in the market seems just about right — Memphis is closer to full health, and is a full-on killer at home — but the total is a touch too high.

As noted before, these teams are very similar. They both thrive in the paint, but both teams are also strong defending the paint. They both hit the offensive glass, but they also both do work eliminating their opponents from doing the same.

Along the same lines, I like taking the under on Jaren Jackson Jr.'s points + rebounds prop. The best price out there right now is under 20.5 at -119 at Caesars.

Pick: Jaren Jackson Jr. Under 20.5 Points + Rebounds (-119)

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