The New Orleans Pelicans announced on Friday that All-Star Zion Williamson will be sidelined indefinitely with a fractured right ring finger. The big man was averaging 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists on an absurdly efficient 61.1 percent shooting from the field this season.
Zion Injury Update: pic.twitter.com/DPY2RSJq0x
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) May 7, 2021
Sitting 11th in the Western Conference, it feels like this news should have zero impact on the Bulls. However, if we take a glance at the league-wide standings, it’s a different story. New Orleans sits just 3.0 games ahead of Chicago with the league’s 1oth-worst record. Sandwiched in between the two is Sacramento, who is two 2.0 games ahead of the Bulls.
The Pelicans were thought to be making a final push for the 10th play-in spot. Landing in that spot by May 16th would have been difficult, but they still had a 17.6 percent chance to do so, according to Basketball-Reference’s Playoff Probabilities Report. Now, with Williamson out, it’s hard not to worry that plan has been reversed. The team has games against the 76ers, Hornets, Grizzlies, Mavericks, Warriors, and Lakers to finish out their regular season. All are teams who are in the postseason picture as of now. In other words, all are teams who could pretty easily help the Pelicans significantly improve their lottery odds.
Chicago currently has a 26.3 percent chance to land in the Top-4 and keep their 2021 draft pick, per Tankathon. Those odds went down from 31.9 after winning on Thursday and surpassing the Toronto Raptors in the standings. Meanwhile, the Pelicans hold just a 13.9 percent chance at a top-4 pick in their existing spot.
There is no way to know how well the Pelicans will play over this final stretch nor exactly how their organization plans to handle these last six games, but if the Bulls secretly hope to maintain their relatively decent lottery odds while winning a little, this could be concerning news.
The Win Over the Hornets Was Fun and All, But the Bulls Play-in Chances Are Still Very Badhttps://t.co/vVpI9IvsiQ
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) May 7, 2021