Top draft prospect Zion Williamson appears like he is heading to the New Orleans Pelicans.
On Tuesday, the Pelicans shockingly jumped up in the lottery and earned the number one pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, with New Orleans now widely expected to select the former Duke star.
Williamson became the story of college basketball as a freshman for the Blue Devils in 2018-19. He was almost unstoppable around the rim and also displayed an ability to create plays for himself as well as others.
In total, the 6-7 star averaged 22.6 points and 8.9 rebounds while shooting 68 per cent from the field. Williamson was also a force defensively as he tallied 2.1 steals and 1.8 blocks per game.
New Orleans will undoubtedly benefit from the surprising lottery results. Anthony Davis was the Pelicans' last top pick and he blossomed into a star with the team. He is a go-to scorer who can protect the paint, as well.
Davis and Williamson have a chance to form a dangerous frontcourt duo. The two are both multi-dimensional scorers and could become a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. They also should dominate the glass on both ends.
But, Davis told the Pelicans he did not plan to re-sign when his contract expired after 2019-20 and asked the team to move him in late January. The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly made multiple offers for him before the trade deadline, according to several reports, yet no deal was ultimately reached.
Los Angeles, the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks and others will all reportedly pursue trading for Davis this offseason and New Orleans are expected to once again consider dealing him.
The Pelicans now have the building blocks of a team that could be in contention to make a playoff run as Davis, Williamson and guard Jrue Holiday could combine for a strong core with a lot of potential. That might be enough to make Davis re-evaluate his decision not to consider an extension from New Orleans, which would give Williamson time to develop next to one of the league's top players.
However, shortly after the lottery, the Athletic reported Davis still wants to be moved.
If that is the case, New Orleans are still in better position now than they were earlier this week. The Pelicans have the option to move Davis for younger, cheaper pieces and draft picks that better fit Williamson's timeline. They can continue to stock pile assets with the hopes of one day competing for a championship with the 18-year-old as the team's centrepiece.
Regardless of what happens with Davis, the Pelicans and their fans should have renewed hope for the future after Tuesday.