Dejounte Murray trade boosts fantasy value, Pelicans' betting

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The NBA never rests, as on Friday night, it was reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Larry Nance Jr., Dyson Daniels and two future first round picks.

With this trade reshaping both the Pelicans and Hawks, Andre Snellings and Eric Moody break down what fantasy managers and sports bettors need to know about the deal.

Fantasy basketball opportunity for Pelicans and Hawks

For the Pelicans, this balances out their lineup and gives them the true point guard they’ve been missing. While CJ McCollum is a strong combo guard that can be a playmaker in spurts, Murray is actually a full-time point guard on both sides of the ball. With the Spurs, before he went to the Hawks, Murray was one of the best defensive guards in basketball with the size and physicality to make life tough on opposing points. He’ll have the opportunity to be that again for the Pelicans, and he’ll be able to re-utilize the distributing skills he often had to subsume next to Trae Young to create easier shots for Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and McCollum. Murray has also become a much better shooter/scorer in the last few seasons as well, so he should be able to take advantage of shot opportunities created by playing off of the other talented finishers on the Pelicans.

Looking at this from a fantasy perspective, Murray is a winner that should have a higher usage rate and more offensive production, particularly assists but perhaps point too, while playing with the Pelicans. McCollum’s scoring volume may remain similar, but he likely loses an assist or two and generates numbers closer to when he was in Portland. It isn’t clear whether Ingram and Williamson will both be back, but if so their shooting percentages could increase slightly but their own assist totals could dip as well.

Meanwhile in Atlanta, if Trae Young stays on the team he would seem to have the ultra green-light now with Murray gone. Having two All Star caliber lead guards on one team ate into both player’s production, and now Young would return to his volume opportunities of a few seasons ago and perhaps a top-10 fantasy hoops producer. Outside of Young, though, the Hawks are now full of young players and finishers that could step into Murray’s scoring void. Jalen Johnson had a breakout season last year and could be on the verge of making a leap.

Keep an eye on Daniels, too. Daniels was the ninth overall pick in the 2022 draft and, as a 6-7 guard, has the size to potentially play with Young but the lead guard skills to play in the backcourt with Bogdan Bogdanovic. Daniels was never able to get things going in New Orleans with a Pelicans squad with playoffs goals, but on a Hawks team in rebuild he should have less pressure and more opportunity to see if he can refind the form that once made him a lottery pick. — Andre Snellings

Which bets to make on the Pelicans

This is a great move for the Pelicans. Dejounte Murray provides them with a scoring guard who can also defend. He was one of only two players last season to record 1,500 points, 500 assists, and 100 steals. The other player besides Murray to accomplish this feat was Nikola Jokic. Also, Murray provides the Pelicans with a dependable player in the clutch. New Orleans was 0-22 last season when trailing entering the fourth quarter.

Murray will significantly help the Pelicans in the assists department. Last season, New Orleans’ guards accumulated only 679 assists, the fewest by any team’s group of guards. There are rumors that Brandon Ingram may be on the move, but I don’t see Murray being the Pelicans’ only move this offseason. However, this is a great first step in continuing to build a contender around Zion Williamson and CJ McCollum, especially after being swept by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

Bettors should consider taking a position on the Pelicans (+2000) to win the Western Conference now as free agency unfolds. Also, keep an eye on New Orleans’ win totals once they become available. — Eric Moody

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