Kings vs Pelicans Picks and Predictions: Murray Drops Flurry of Threes

Keegan Murray's had a record-breaking season from long range, and he shouldn't be slowing down tonight against the Pelicans defense. See why our NBA picks are backing the Kings rookie to keep reigning.

Apr 4, 2023 • 08:41 ET • 4 min read
Keegan Murray Sacramento Kings
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Now that the dust has finally settled on March Madness, the NBA once more has the undivided attention of the basketball world. With only a handful of games remaining in the regular season, the race for play-in and playoff positioning is coming down to the wire in the Western Conference. 

The New Orleans Pelicans are one of four different teams currently tied with 38 losses, leaving them capable of moving as high as the fifth seed or falling as far as 10th. Every win matters for the Pels, who will be hosting the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday, April 4. Sacramento still has an outside chance of unseating the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 2 seed, but mostly wants to have a bounce-back performance after an uncharacteristic home loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

Our NBA picks and predictions for Kings vs. Pelicans zero in on the marksmanship of Sacramento rookie Keegan Murray, whose long-range shooting is breaking NBA records.

Kings vs Pelicans best odds

Kings vs Pelicans picks and predictions

When you miss the playoffs for 16 straight seasons, rightly or wrongly, your decisions are going to earn a lot of reflexive skepticism. So it was when the Sacramento Kings were on the clock during the 2022 NBA draft and elected to take Keegan Murray ahead of Jaden Ivey, despite the latter being considered by many to be the best talent remaining on the board. While it will take years to confirm whether or not the Kings chose correctly, one thing is certain, Murray is nobody’s consolation prize.

The 6-foot-8 forward out of Iowa is a lock to make All-Rookie first team, and his immediate impact as a big wing with NBA-ready perimeter skills is a major reason that the Kings have been able to end the longest playoff drought in North American sports.

Murray isn’t a good shooter. He’s not even just a great shooter. He’s pound-for-pound one of the best and most productive rookie shooters the NBA has ever seen. The proof is in the pudding, as Murray just broke Donovan Mitchell’s record for most 3-pointers made in a rookie season in NBA history at 188 threes made (and counting). The volume is matched by unreal efficiency as well, as Murray is at 41% from downtown on the season.

All told, 61% of all his shot attempts have been 3-pointers per Cleaning the Glass, and his high success rate has seen him grow into one of the most efficient rookies in his class. He’s doubled down on that formula recently, however, with over 75% of his shot attempts coming from behind the arc over his last 10 games.

Perhaps just as impressive is that Murray isn’t generating these shots by just parking in the corner and hoisting wide-open looks. He’s getting the vast majority above the break, working as one of the many partners in Domantas Sabonis’ flourishing dribble-handoff game.

Importantly, those are shots he should get to easily against the New Orleans Pelicans. In terms of opponent shot defense, the Pels allow the sixth-most opponent 3-point attempts of any team this season. They bank everything on denying the rim and letting opposing teams let it fly. The Kings and Murray will be more than happy to oblige them.

Murray has hit three or more threes in eight out of his last 10 games, and in that same span, he’s shooting a blistering 45% from downtown on eight attempts per game. These odds are simply too good to pass up.

My best bet: Keegan Murray Over 2.5 3-pointers made (-109)

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Kings vs Pelicans spread analysis

While I love that New Orleans ultimately went with the Pelicans for their rebrand some years ago, after due consideration, they might want to rename themselves after a different bird: the phoenix. Because just when you think they’re left for dead, this Pels team is reborn into something more dynamic and powerful than you ever believed they had in them. Last season, they revived themselves after a 1-13 start to make the playoffs, and while this season’s turnaround hasn’t been quite as dramatic, they looked dead on arrival a month ago.

Now the Pels are playing some of their best basketball on both ends, led by All-Star caliber play from Brandon Ingram. Ingram has shown incredible growth as a playmaker, and even without Zion Williamson, he’s helped turn New Orleans into a team nobody wants to face right now. Suddenly they’re 7-1 against the spread over their last eight games and a real threat to leap out of the Western Conference morass and into a guaranteed playoff spot.

The Kings meanwhile seem to be dealing with some understandable complacency after finally clinching the other night, losing to a San Antonio Spurs team playing a cadre of G-League players major minutes. The Kings haven’t let one misstep become a pattern at any point this season, so even though New Orleans will be the hungrier team, I’m expecting a much better performance from the Kings. Sacramento is 7-1 ATS in their previous eight games following a straight-up loss.

Kings vs Pelicans Over/Under analysis

Tuesday’s game is a classic styles-make-fights matchup. The Kings are far and away the best offense in the NBA this season, and their offensive rating over the last two weeks is even better than their season-long mark. New Orleans is a curious case: looking at their top-line talent, one would have assumed coming into the season that they’d find success in a similar way to Sacramento. Instead, the Pelicans have stayed afloat on the back of the sixth-best defense in the NBA, per Cleaning the Glass.

Despite that, oddsmakers have underestimated the degree to which both teams are getting better at this stage of the season at their respective strengths. The Pelicans' defense is only getting better, which has contributed to the Under cashing in 16 of their last 21 games overall. It’s also 18-6 when they play on two days' rest.

The Kings, conversely, are on a string of road Overs. The Over is 9-4-1 in Sacramento’s last 14 games away from the Golden 1 Center. Their shooting travels better than most teams in the NBA, which is why I’m inclined to lean towards the Over at 237.5.

Kings vs Pelicans betting trend to know

Pelicans are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games overall. Find more NBA betting trends for Kings vs. Pelicans.

Kings vs Pelicans game info

Location: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA
Date: Tuesday, April 4, 2023
Tip-off: 8:00 p.m. ET
TV: NBCS-California, Bally Sports New Orleans

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