May 14 (UPI) — The New Orleans Pelicans defied the odds and won the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery, and now have the first chance at selecting Duke Blue Devils star Zion Williamson.
The Pelicans secured their first lottery win since 2012, when the franchise selected All-Star big man Anthony Davis. The Memphis Grizzlies will pick second, the New York Knicks third and the Los Angeles Lakers will choose fourth.
Williamson, the consensus top prospect in the 2019 NBA Draft class, averaged 22.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game last season. The Duke star, described as a once-in-a-generation talent by most scouts, was watching the lottery results from a stageside seat.
“We’re going to be attracting best-in-class individuals,” Pelicans general manager David Griffin told reporters. “It’s what we want to do and it’s what we want to be about. This is certainly representative of that. It’s something that we certainly are grateful for. When you live in a place of gratitude, good things start to happen from there.”
New Orleans had a six percent chance of winning the lottery Tuesday night. The Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers and Knicks (14 percent) each had the best chances of winning the top overall pick, but none of the teams secured a top-2 selection.
The Cavaliers will pick fifth, Phoenix sixth, the Chicago Bulls seventh, the Atlanta Hawks eighth, the Washington Wizards ninth, Atlanta again at 10th, the Minnesota Timberwolves 11th, the Charlotte Hornets 12th, the Miami Heat 13th and the Boston Celtics 14th. The Celtics obtained the 14th overall pick in an earlier trade with the Sacramento Kings.