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The Pelicans entered the night with the tied-for-seventh-best odds of landing the No. 1 pick (6 percent). Lady Luck smiled down upon executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin.
Many expect Davis to be out the door after he requested a trade ahead of the Feb. 7 trade deadline. In Williamson, the Pelicans will have a player around whom they can build for the long term.
Here’s a look at the results of the lottery.
2019 NBA 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 (via Mavericks)
11. Minnesota Timberwolves
12. Charlotte Hornets
13. Miami Heat
14. Boston Celtics (via Kings)
15. Detroit Pistons
16. Orlando Magic
17. Brooklyn Nets
18. Indiana Pacers
19. San Antonio Spurs
20. Boston Celtics (via Clippers)
21. Oklahoma City Thunder
22. Boston Celtics
23. Utah Jazz
24. Philadelphia 76ers
25. Portland Trail Blazers
26. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Rockets)
27. Brooklyn Nets (via Nuggets)
28. Golden State Warriors
29. San Antonio Spurs (via Raptors)
30. Milwaukee Bucks
31. Brooklyn Nets (via Knicks)
32. Phoenix Suns
33. Philadelphia 76ers (via Cavaliers)
34. Philadelphia 76ers (Chicago Bulls)
35. Atlanta Hawks
36. Charlotte Hornets (via Wizards)
37. Dallas Mavericks
38. Chicago Bulls (via Grizzlies)
39. New Orleans Pelicans
40. Sacramento Kings (via Timberwolves)
41. Atlanta Hawks (via Lakers)
42. Philadelphia 76ers (via Kings)
43. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Heat)
44. Atlanta Hawks (via Hornets)
45. Detroit Pistons
46. Orlando Magic (via Nets)
47. Sacramento Kings (via Magic)
48. Los Angeles Clippers
49. San Antonio Spurs
50. Indiana Pacers
51. Boston Celtics
52. Charlotte Hornets (via Thunder)
53. Utah Jazz
54. Philadelphia 76ers
55. New York Knicks (via Rockets)
56. Los Angeles Clippers (via Blazers)
57. New Orleans Pelicans (via Nuggets)
58. Golden State Warriors
59. Toronto Raptors
60. Sacramento Kings (via Bucks)
Some fans thought the fix was in when both the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers climbed into the top four. The Knicks weren’t a big surprise since they had a 52.1 percent chance of getting a top-four selection. The Lakers, on the other hand, only had 9.4 percent odds.
However, fans in New York and L.A. likely ended up disappointed with the results of the lottery. It’s a double-whammy for the Knicks and Lakers in particular because they could’ve used the opportunity to select Williamson as a major incentive in a trade package for Davis.
Now, those teams will have to get creative to acquire the six-time All-Star.
Of course, some questioned whether Davis might have second thoughts about forcing his way out of New Orleans since he’ll now be joined by a prodigious young talent.
A few months ago, things looked pretty bleak for the Pelicans. They were seemingly on the verge of losing their cornerstone and had little other recourse than building through the draft—a strategy that can deliver middling results for years.
Now, New Orleans has a proven front-office executive (Griffin) building the roster and the face of the franchise (Williamson) even if it deals Davis before the start of the 2019-20 season.
Almost everybody expects Williamson to be the top pick June 20.
The Duke Blue Devils forward was a revelation in his only season of college ball. He averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 1.8 blocks per game. At 6’7″ and 285 pounds, Williamson was a physical marvel and head and shoulders above the competition.
As thrilling as Williamson’s dunks were, his offensive game went far beyond highlight-reel jams. He averaged 2.1 assists per contest and shot 33.8 percent from three-point range. If he becomes a slightly more consistent long-range shooter, he’ll almost be unstoppable.
The 2019 draft intrigue largely starts with who comes off the board at No. 2 overall.
Ja Morant is the second-best player available for many fans.
Morant averaged 24.5 points and 10.0 assists per game in his sophomore season at Murray State. For those who didn’t follow the Racers all year, the talented guard showcased his skills in his team’s NCAA tournament first-round win over No. 5-seeded Marquette with a triple-double. He had 17 points, 11 rebounds and 16 assists.
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The gap between Morant and the likes of RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish, Coby White and De’Andre Hunter isn’t so great that another player couldn’t jump ahead of him on draft boards—especially Barrett.
While Williamson is this class’ premier star, a team might be able to unearth a hidden gem further back in the lottery.
Anthony Bennett was the No. 1 overall selection in 2013, yet the Milwaukee Bucks came out the clear winners from that year’s draft. They changed their future when they added Giannis Antetokounmpo with the 15th pick.