When NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum revealed Tuesday night that the New Orleans Pelicans had the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, it shocked the NBA.
It also appeared to stun Zion Williamson, the presumptive No. 1 pick.
“To me, he kind of looked like he had been hit by a truck,” ESPN’s Rachel Nichols told Scott Van Pelt after the lottery. “And I understand it. When he woke up this morning, New Orleans was not what he was thinking. Hmm … maybe I’ll have some beignets.”
Zion Williamson’s reaction to the New Orleans Pelicans getting the first pick was priceless.
— Justin Enriquez (@justinenriquez_) May 15, 2019
“I actually got a chance to chat with him a little bit before all this started,” Nichols, who hosted ESPN’s draft lottery coverage, said. “This is a kid that has such calmness about him. He was ready for the moment and I’m sure once he resets his mindset, he’ll say, ‘Okay, New Orleans … beignets sound pretty good. Lets see what happens next.'”
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) May 15, 2019
New Orleans was not on many people’s radar as the destination for Williamson, who is considered the slam dunk choice as the top pick in the draft. Most of the focus was on the New York Knicks, who had the worst record in the NBA last year.
The Knicks, along with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns, each had a 14 percent chance to land the No. 1 pick.
?DRAFT LOTTERY ORDER?
— NBA Quick Report™? (@NBAquickreport) May 15, 2019
But nothing went as it was supposed to. After the Pelicans, the Memphis Grizzlies got the second pick, and they — like the Pelicans — had the same odds as New Orleans.
The Knicks finished third, while the Lakers jumped way up from a projected pick of No. 11, based on their record, to No. 4.
Cleveland, Phoenix, and Chicago fell to fifth, sixth, and seventh, respectively. The Hawks, Wizards, Hawks again (from Dallas), Timberwolves, Hornets, Heat and Celtics (from Sacramento) round out Nos. 9 through 14.
ESPN’s Maria Taylor asked Williamson for his reaction after the Pelicans won the lottery, and the Duke phenom said he will bring his “will to win” to whichever team ends up drafting him.
“I don’t know why, I’m just still nervous,” Williamson told Taylor. “Maybe because … all eyes were on me. And I think it’s a lot to take in, ’cause I don’t know where I’m gonna be.”
Williamson is considered the best prospect since Anthony Davis, and some even think he’s a better prospect than LeBron James was in 2003.
New Orleans getting the No. 1 pick, presumably Williamson, throws the entire NBA offseason for a loop.
The big question now is: Can David Griffin, new Pelicans vice president of basketball operations, convince Davis — who demanded a trade at the 2019 trade deadline — to stay?
The New Orleans Pelicans are now set up to be Zion Williamson’s franchise to lift, and No. 1 pick could ease potential trade of Anthony Davis. His stance on a trade has not changed, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 15, 2019
The Athletic’s Shams Charania tweeted Tuesday that the possibility of Williamson coming to New Orleans has not changed Davis’s mind and he still wants to be traded.
But Griffin won’t go down without a fight. He told NBA.com that he plans to sit down with Davis and the player’s agent, Rich Paul, and make a pitch.
“I think if you look at the totality of where this organization is and where we’re going, we feel very strongly that we’re going be the environment he wants to be part of. And if we’re not, that’s fine; we can deal with it from there. But I’m looking at this believing that there’s no reason he wouldn’t want to win with us, because that’s what we do. It’s who we are. And I think culturally, we’re about all the same things,” Griffin said, reported NBA.com.
“We’re going to build something that we hope everyone wants to be part of, and I believed very strongly Anthony’s going to want to be part of that whether we win this or not. I think when you have elite talent, that tends to attract other truly elite talent,” Griffin said.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.