The final stop on the New Orleans Pelicans' Northwestern road trip is the Ball Arena in Colorado, where they'll take on the Denver Nuggets. The Pelicans' season isn't going as well as they'd hoped. They are on a losing record of 17-24 and are eyeing the play-in tournament.
Meanwhile, the Nuggets have turned it around after a poor start to the season thanks to Nikola Jokic's exploits. They have won eight of their last nine games and the Joker is making a strong case for his first-ever MVP award.
The New Orleans Pelicans face a relatively tough schedule ahead. Seven of their next eleven games are against teams with an above .500 record. If the squad doesn't pull up their socks, they might find it harder to enter the play-in game as well.
The Pelicans have lost seven of their last ten games, including both games against Portland.
The Denver Nuggets, on the other hand, have a strong chance of entering the top 4 seeds. The LA Clippers are struggling of late and if the next few weeks go according to plan, the Denver Nuggets could grab home-court advantage in the playoffs.
New Orleans Pelicans vs Denver Nuggets Prediction - March 21st, 2021
Due to their superior record and recent dominant form, the Denver Nuggets are obvious favorites to grab a victory tonight. Nikola Jokic is performing at an MVP level and is averaging a near triple-double with 27 points, 11.2 rebounds and 8.6 assists a night.
Meanwhile, the New Orleans Pelicans are handicapped without their main facilitator and point guard, Lonzo Ball, as he was recently put into questionable status ahead of the game.
Zion Williamson might be in for a big night as there are only a few players capable of stopping him. The efficacy of the Pelicans' offense is about to take a dip if Ball does indeed sit out the game.
Nevertheless, both teams feature All-Stars and some stellar basketball players, so a combined starting 5 would be incredible. Without further ado, let's take a look at a hypothetical combined starting lineup between the New Orleans Pelicans and Denver Nuggets.
Point Guard - Jamal Murray (Denver Nuggets)
Jamal Murray is making the case for being one of the best point guards in the league. His exceptional performances in the 2020 NBA playoffs put the spotlight on him and the Denver Nuggets.
Murray is averaging over 20 points per game and shooting over 40% from three for the first time in his career while also grabbing a career-high 1.3 steals per game. He recently dropped one of the most efficient 50-point performances in NBA history.
Shooting Guard - Eric Bledsoe (New Orleans Pelicans)
Normally, we would have had Lonzo Ball in this role but given his probable absence, Eric Bledsoe is the ideal replacement. A two-time member of the NBA All-Defensive Team (First Team in 2019), Bledsoe would provide a solid perimeter defense for this combined lineup.
Eric Bledsoe also posts nearly 12 points a night for the New Orleans Pelicans.
Small Forward - Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans)
The reigning Most Improved Player, Brandon Ingram, is the perfect small forward for this star-studded lineup. The star forward has vastly expanded his skillset as he now takes three-pointers and pull-up jumpshots with ease.
He is averaging an incredible 23.8 points per night while leading the New Orleans Pelicans in minutes played. Ingram also leads the team in blocks and dishes out the second-highest assists.
Power Forward - Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans)
It is safe to say that the young phenom Zion Williamson has lived up to his hype. He leads the team in scoring with a whopping 25.6 points per game and several of his dunks are highlights worthy. Williamson is the reason the New Orleans Pelicans get so many primetime spots for scheduled games.
Many would be shocked to hear that a 20-year old sophomore is leading the league in 2-pt field goals with 380 so far. Williamson also has the highest FG% for a player averaging over 20 points per game.
Center - Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)
There was no doubt on who'd be the center of this illustrious lineup. Nikola Jokic is considered by many to be the best passing big man in the game. He is one of just 13 players averaging a double-double with 11.2 boards a night while also dishing out 8.6 assists per game.
The Joker has been playing at the MVP level this season and his exceptional performances have taken the Denver Nuggets to the 5th spot in the competitive Western Conference. As of today, Nikola Jokic leads the NBA in the MVP rankings.