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Pelicans Win The Draft Lottery, But Make No Commitments

Now things get interesting

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NBA: NBA Draft Lottery
May 14, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Duke forward Zion Williamson is seen prior to the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery at the Hilton Chicago.
Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

So much for the idea of a rigged draft lottery: The New York Knicks and the LA Lakers both moved up but only to #3 and #4 respectively, leaving small market teams New Orleans and Memphis with the top two picks.

The Pelicans were represented by executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin, who refused to commit to drafting Williamson, which may have suited him just fine based on his reaction.

He certainly didn’t seem ebullient but was as diplomatic and polite as he has usually been, saying that the draft has not yet happened and he would wait to see where he was taken.

For the Pelicans, it’s bound to be leverage to convince Anthony Davis to stay. Davis, perhaps the best big man in the league, made it clear that he would prefer to be elsewhere.

We’ve talked about the effect Williamson has on a team in the locker room and we would compare that a bit to what Magic Johnson did to a team. He just gave it confidence and unity. In particular he had a major effect on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, jumping in his arms when the Lakers won their first game in Johnson’s rookie season.

Could Williamson have a similar effect on Davis? Only time will tell but the guy is a great teammate.

As for RJ Barrett, the question now is will Memphis draft to replace Mike Conley, Jr. who is now 31. If they do, then Ja Morant may be the logical pick - and Murray State is just three hours away. They’ve probably scouted him as well as anyone and he’d be a big regional draw.

One of those two will likely fall to the Knicks where fans are no doubt in mourning as we write this. There were rabbis, priests and witches praying for Zion but that’s not likely to happen now unless there is some sort of monstrous trade.

And consider this: if New Orleans felt totally crazy, they could trade Davis AND the #1 pick, and not to the same team necessarily. If they chose to do that, they could probably bring in 6-7 very good players and draft picks. Imagine what Boston would give up to get Davis then imagine a trade to, say, Portland for Williamson.

We don't think anyone has ever pulled off something like that with two highly desired players at once. Griffin’s head, like Zion’s, must be spinning right now.

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