The New Orleans Pelicans won the NBA Draft lottery on Tuesday night, which almost definitely means Zion Williamson will be headed to NOLA. Despite having just a six percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall selection, New Orleans jumped six teams with better odds to snag it.
This upset could change the future of the league.
The biggest drama yet to be resolved from the 2018-19 season is Anthony Davis’ next team. New Orleans’ superstar big man requested a trade ahead of the All-Star break, but it wasn’t granted. That made things incredibly awkward as AD played a limited minutes role, was wiped from the team’s intro video, and closed the season wearing a “That’s all folks” Looney Tunes shirt. In his mind, he was absolutely departing NOLA by summer’s end.
But now the spotlight will return to him way sooner than expected. Everything’s different. Williamson is a game-changer, and the most talked-about teen since LeBron James. Most thought whoever earned the rights to draft his talents would look to trade it for Davis in the first place. Now, New Orleans is stacked with a potential generational talent and the one person who might make Davis change his mind.
The question is if new Pels GM David Griffin will be able to bring AD back on board.
The rest of the lottery was a total surprise as well.
A new system punished the worst performing teams of the regular season with lower odds than years prior to steer franchises away from tanking. It worked exactly as envisioned, as just one of the top-4 picks was given to a team with a bottom-4 record.
The Memphis Grizzlies, with six percent odds to pick No. 1, will choose second. The New York Knicks, who had 14 percent odds, third. The L.A. Lakers had two percent odds, but jumped to the fourth selection.
The rest of the lottery doesn’t have talent near what Zion will bring to the table, but there are contributors. The Grizzles are likely to pick between Ja Morant, a flashy point guard from Murray State, and R.J. Barrett, a scoring guard from Duke. Memphis’ rebuild could move quicker than expected. New York is likely to take the other, unless it can trade the pick for Davis or another superstar.
But the real attention is on Anthony Davis, New Orleans, and how the Pels can pull a complete 180 in a matter of months. A team on the brink of a full meltdown is 20 steps in the opposite direction, all thanks to a handful of ping pong balls.
Full Draft Order:
1. New Orleans Pelicans
2. Memphis Grizzlies
3. New York Knicks
4. Los Angeles Lakers
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
6. Phoenix Suns
7. Chicago Bulls
8. Atlanta Hawks
9. Washington Wizards
10. Atlanta Hawks
11. Minnesota Timberwolves
12. Charlotte Hornets
13. Miami Heat
14. Boston Celtics