After weeks and months of anticipation for several NBA teams, the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery arrived on Tuesday evening. While the festivities were simply the appetizer for the Western Conference Finals in some circles, some franchises were very interested in the outcome, particularly in the first year of new, flattened odds for the No. 1 overall pick. Ultimately, though, the New Orleans Pelicans landed in the spot and, as a result, the team will be in the driver’s seat with an eye toward Duke wunderkind Zion Williamson.
Long before Williamson officially declared for the draft in mid-April, the consensus was that the 6’7 forward was the clear top prospect available in 2019 and his on-court play during the 2018-19 campaign was plainly spectacular. Williamson posted video-game level numbers in terms of efficiency, shooting 68 percent from the floor and nearly 75 percent on two-point attempts, and the uber-talented freshman averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 1.8 blocks per game during his brief time in Durham. That performance earned Williamson multiple honors as National Player of the Year and, while there may be holdouts in some corner of the NBA world, the 2019 lottery was widely seen as the Zion lottery.
Prior to the lottery process on Tuesday, the Pelicans had just a 6.0 percent chance to claim the No. 1 overall spot, though it should be noted that no team had better than a 14 percent chance at the ultimate prize. After the Pelicans make their selection (or execute a trade) at the top, the No. 2 pick will be in the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies, with the New York Knicks picking at No. 3 overall and the Los Angeles Lakers rounding out the actual “lottery” portion at No. 4.
There will be plenty of rumors in the coming days and weeks about what the Pelicans might do at the top of the draft but, at this stage, it will be a surprise if Williamson is not the top pick and his ultimate destination appears to be New Orleans.