As soon as news broke that the New Orleans Pelicans were going to pick first in next month’s NBA draft, body language experts began reading into former Duke star Zion Williamson’s demeanor to determine if he was happy or not.
Williamson, who’s expected to be the top selection, reportedly wanted to to play for the New York Knicks, according to ESPN’s Marc J. Spears.
Zion Williamson was QUICKLY whisked out of the room after Pelicans were announced the winner of the draft lottery. Source said the former Duke star was rooting to go to New York, but now is going to New Orleans.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) May 15, 2019
But it looks like Williamson will start his career in New Orleans instead. And the phenom’s stepfather, Lee Anderson, recently shot down any speculation that his stepson was unhappy that the Pelicans had won the draft lottery.
“We’re excited [about coming to New Orleans],” Lee Anderson told the “Off the Bench” radio show on 104.5 ESPN Baton Rouge on Thursday, per ESPN.
“We’re excited about that.”
Williamson has yet to sign with an agent, which leaves open the slight possibility that he could still return to Duke.
But according to Anderson, the family hasn’t even though about delaying the NBA for another year.
“And you said about returning to Duke … there has been a lot of speculation, but that is nothing that we have even considered,” Anderson said.
Much was also made about Williamson’s post-lottery reaction, as the former Duke star didn’t seem particularly thrilled with the way things went down.
But new video of Williamson’s reaction immediately after the Pelicans landed the No. 1 pick shows the jovial, happy young man who fans witnessed dominating college basketball last season.
Here’s Zion’s reaction when the Pelicans won the No. 1 pick 🎥 pic.twitter.com/RdPCL1eJ59
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 15, 2019
Moreover, Williamson reportedly met with Pelicans brass before the lottery and expressed interest in possibly playing for them.
Sources: Zion Williamson met in Chicago with the New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies, the top two teams in the Draft lottery. Williamson had a positive meeting with New Orleans and prior to lottery, he cited Pelicans as a targeted team to start career.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 16, 2019
The reasons why Williamson or any other top player might be hesitant about playing for the Pelicans are obvious.
They play in the NBA’s second-smallest TV market, they’ve won just two playoff series in franchise history and they alienated their best player, Anthony Davis, so much that he reportedly still wants to be traded.
But Williamson seems to understand that the NBA isn’t like college, where you can handpick who you want to play for and parity is just a six-letter word.
He only has so much control over where he can go, and if Anderson is to be believed, he wants to make the best out of his situation.
“One thing that Zion has always been taught, you accept the things you can’t change, you change the things that you can change, and this is one of the things that he had nothing to do with,” Anderson said.
“It’s the process of the NBA.”
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