NBA

BREAKING: Pelicans Win Zion Sweepstakes; Earn Top Draft Pick

After winning the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery, the New Orleans Pelicans are expected to select Duke’s Zion Williamson.

(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

The New Orleans Pelicans won Tuesday night’s NBA Draft Lottery, giving them the top pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Barring a major change, the Pelicans will take Zion Williamson out of Duke University. The Memphis Grizzlies, the New York Knicks, and the Los Angeles Lakers will follow in that order, with Murray State’s Ja Morant likely going second behind Williamson.

It’s seemingly been a foregone conclusion that Williamson would be the top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft since he was in high school throwing down internet-shattering dunks. As a Blue Devil, the 18-year-old phenom only boosted his draft stock by exceeding his sky-high expectations.

Williamson averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds (including 3.5 on the offensive glass), 2.1 assists, 2.1 steals, and 1.8 blocks. On top of that, he shot a ridiculous 68 percent from the floor on 13.2 attempts. He performed just as well during the NCAA Tournament, averaging 26 points and 8.5 boards on 61.6 percent shooting. The following is a list of players to average at least 22 points, eight rebounds, two steals, and 1.5 blocks in a single NCAA season: Zion Williamson. That’s it.

Zion Williamson will join another elite big man in Anthony Davis. New Orleans had the third-highest scoring average in the NBA, trailing only the Milwaukee Bucks and Golden State Warriors, two teams expected to reach the NBA Finals. The addition of the young phenom might be enough to get Davis to stay in New Orleans and build one of the best 1-2 combos in the league.

At 6-foot-7, 285 pounds, Williamson moves like a guard and has no trouble maneuvering with the ball in his hands. He’s also one of the most athletic people to ever step on a basketball court, hence the early comparisons to NBA greats, such as LeBron James. Of course, facing NBA-level defenders, Willamson may not be as effective off the dribble as he was at Duke, thus limiting his offensive skillset. However, his ability to finish at the rim — especially on non-dunks — will translate seamlessly.

While he was able to rack up steals and blocks, there are some questions about the young star’s overall defensive abilities, specifically when guarding the ball handler. He sometimes appears to take plays off on defense and can often be out of place. His athleticism made up for it at the collegiate level, but it’s something he’ll surely need to work on prior to his rookie campaign.

Despite a few small question marks around his defense and jump shot, Zion Williamson is one of the best NBA prospects in recent memory and will surely improve the __ this season. Now we just wait to see which shoe company he signs with.

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