After the twists and turns of the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery resulted in an order vastly different from most pre-lottery projections, organizations and their front offices weren’t the only ones reportedly left disappointed. According to ESPN’s Marc Spears, likely first overall pick Zion Williamson wanted to be a Knick but now seems to be headed to New Orleans after they secured first overall.
Zion Williamson was QUICKLY whisked out of the room after Pelicans were announced the winner of the draft lottery. Source said the former Duke star was rooting to go to New York, but now is going to New Orleans.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) May 15, 2019
The Knicks came in tied with the best odds for the first pick, leading to speculation that the Duke product could be headed to New York. Instead, the Knicks will now pick third when the draft commences on June 20.
For a prospect as decorated and hyped as Zion Williamson has been over the past year or so, it’s no surprise his dream was playing under the bright lights of New York’s Madison Square Garden. The Knicks have always been one of the marquee franchises in the NBA and despite their lack of success in recent years, they remain a potential landing spot for top free agents as well.
Now, Williamson will likely have to accustom himself with a rebuilding Pelicans franchise that seems to be on the verge of dealing their franchise centerpiece in Anthony Davis. With Williamson expected to be thrust into a featured role early, it’ll be intriguing to see how the young phenom may respond to some early adversity.
There’s no doubt Williamson has the ability to be a transcendent talent no matter where he lands, but it will be more difficult playing in a smaller market and in an unforgiving Western Conference. As opposed to potentially becoming an immediate playoff team in the East if he was drafted by New York, Williamson will likely have to wait a few years before the Pelicans build a team ready to contend for the postseason.
This could impact his development as an NBA player, but Williamson remains an immensely talented prospect capable of changing the culture wherever he ultimately lands.