NBA: 5 bold predictions for the remainder of the season

Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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NBA New Orleans Pelicans
NBA New Orleans Pelicans Zion Williamson and Jaxson Hayes (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Zion Williamson will lead the Pelicans to the playoffs and win Rookie of the Year

This is a two-part prediction. The New Orleans Pelicans are currently three games back of the Memphis Grizzlies for the 8th seed in the West. According to Tankathon, the Pelicans currently have the third easiest remaining schedule in the NBA, while Memphis has the toughest schedule in the NBA for the rest of the season.

Portland, who is currently 2.5 games back of Memphis, has the fifth easiest schedule remaining in the NBA. This means that the Pelicans have the easiest path to the playoffs out of the three teams competing for the final spot.

Not only do they have the easiest route, but they have also been improving drastically with the arrival of Zion Williamson. In his 12 games this season, Zion is averaging 22.8 points and 7.2 rebounds, while shooting over 40 percent from the 3-point line. The Pelicans are 7-5 over these 12 games and have captured two wins over the Trail Blazers and a win over the Grizzlies.

Brandon Ingram is beginning to play like the star everyone knew he was since his draft day, and Lonzo Ball fits in well on a team where he can be the main playmaker. Seasoned veterans J.J. Redick and Jrue Holiday are helping to propel this team into a strong playoff push.

If the Pelicans beat out the Grizzlies for the eighth spot in the West, and Zion continues to rack up the sort of stats that he has thus far in the season, the rookie of the year race will be a deadlock. The argument for Ja Morant would be that he had an incredible season that helped make the Grizzlies overachieve by a wide margin. The main argument for him would also be that he played a lot more games than Zion Williamson.

Zion will have only played around 34 games by the time the season is over. It is incredibly rare that a rookie wins rookie of the year when they play this few of games. Just look at Joel Embiid, who only played 31 games his rookie season. He was clearly the best rookie of the NBA season that year, however, he lost out to Malcolm Brogdon who played nearly the entire season.

If history repeats itself, Ja Morant will take home the trophy. If Zion takes the Pelicans to the playoffs, his resume would simply be too good to overlook, and he would be the 2020 NBA Rookie of the Year.