With only a 6% chance, the New Orleans Pelicans ended up winning the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery on May 14. This means they will get the number one pick for this year’s draft.
The last and only previous time the Pelicans had a number one draft pick was in 2012. At the time, New Orleans picked Anthony Davis. Davis has done wonders for the team, but with talks of trade, the Pelicans need a new star player to keep the franchise afloat.
Since January 2019, Anthony Davis had requested a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans. There had been early talks of him moving to the Lakers in February, but the deal never came to fruition.
He also becomes a free agent after the 2019-20 season. If he still goes through with the trade, he could leave his new team after one season instead of having to sign a long-term deal.
One of the most sought after players for this year’s draft is Zion Williamson. He declared his entrance into the 2019 NBA draft on April 15. He is expected to be picked number one by the Pelicans in the 2019 NBA draft, and the Pelicans are willing to offer him $10 million.
Williamson is a 6-foot 7-inch, 285-pound power and center forward. He played his college career for one year with the Duke Blue Devils. During his freshman season for Duke, he was named ACC Rookie and Player of the Year, received the Naismith Award for being the nation’s top college player, and set the single-game school scoring record for first-year students.
Williamson averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 1.8 blocks his freshman season. He also joined Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant as the only freshmen to have 50 steals, 50 blocks and 500 points in a season.
Williamson’s stepfather Lee Anderson expressed his excitement about potentially playing for New Orleans. “We’re excited about New Orleans. As far as returning to Duke, that’s not something we’ve even considered,” said Anderson.
After the announcement, the Pelicans sold 3,000 season tickets. Spectators automatically think of better wins and games, and season ticket sales have already increased. This could also lead to a bigger fan base, more sponsorships and overall more revenue for New Orleans.
The Pelicans have never advanced past the second round of the playoffs and ended their previous season with a 33-49 record. New Orleans was 25th in attendance for the NBA season and also listed as one of the NBA’s least valuable franchises. The addition of Williamson will be huge in changing that.
There were even talks of possible franchise relocation from small-market New Orleans to Seattle or Las Vegas. With the addition of Williamson, hardcore basketball and casual fans alike will be more enticed in seeing a Pelicans game with a fresh face that knows how to win.
David Griffin, the Pelicans newest executive vice president of basketball operations, is beyond ecstatic for the news. Griffin believes Anthony Davis would be more likely to stay.
“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 to be the environment he wants to be part of,” said Griffin.
However, if Davis does get traded and the Pelicans can’t have a “big three” next season with Davis, Williamson and Jrue Holiday, Griffin has a plan to build up the Pelicans team.
Griffin is building his team based on the already seasoned guard Holiday along with Williamson. Five years ago, Griffin had a similar plan for the Cleveland Cavaliers, making his championship team with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
The Pelicans are now looking for shooters and a third scoring option that can complement Holiday and Williamson. If Davis is traded, the Pelicans will have the opportunity at a lot of talent from various teams, most likely the Boston Celtics.
The draft will occur on June 20. Though everything is not set in stone, whether or not Davis goes through with his trade, the acquisition of Williamson for the New Orleans Pelicans will be monumental.