Pelicans win NBA draft lottery, sweepstakes for Duke superstar Zion Williamson

The New Orleans Pelicans have won the NBA draft lottery and the first shot at selecting Duke superstar Zion Williamson, the presumed choice as the top pick in the draft.

The New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns each had a 14 percent chance of landing the top pick under a new system that gives equal weight of winning the lottery to the teams with the three worst records in the league.

Here’s the full order from the lottery that was held on Tuesday evening.

1: New Orleans Pelicans

2: Memphis Grizzlies

3: New York Knicks

4: Los Angeles Lakers

5: Cleveland Cavaliers

6: Phoenix Suns

7: Chicago Bulls

8: Atlanta Hawks

9: Washington Wizards

10: Atlanta Hawks (from Dallas Mavericks)

11: Minnesota Timberwolves

12: Charlotte Hornets

13: Miami Heat

14: Boston Celtics (from Sacramento Kings)

Williamson surpassed expectations at Duke

Williamson is one of the most coveted NBA prospects in years and will provide an immediate injection of relevance to the Pelicans. He somehow exceeded the massive expectations he arrived with at Duke as a member of one of the most heralded recruiting classes in college basketball history alongside R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish, who also project as lottery picks.

Williamson was the third-rated prospect in Duke’s class but quickly established himself as the star of the team as he wowed crowds with the spectacular dunks that made him a social media sensation before he left high school.

Williamson averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.8 blocks while shooting 68 percent from the field and 33.8 percent from 3-point distance en route to being named National Player of the Year and winning the Wooden and Naismith Awards.

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Zion Williamson's freshman year at Duke
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Zion Williamson's freshman year at Duke
Duke's Zion Williamson (1) and Army's Matt Wilson (14) reach for the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Duke's Zion Williamson reacts following a play against Army during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. Duke won 94-72. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Duke's Zion Williamson (1) drives for a dunk against Eastern Michigan during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Duke's Zion Williamson (1) reacts following a play against Eastern Michigan during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Duke's Zion Williamson (1) reacts following a play against Eastern Michigan during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura (21) tries to stop Duke forward Zion Williamson (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Maui Invitational, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, in Lahaina, Hawaii. Gonzaga defeated Duke 89-87. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
Duke's Zion Williamson reacts following a basket against Indiana during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Duke's Jack White (41) embraces Zion Williamson, middle, as Williamson looks at teammate RJ Barrett (5) late in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Hartford, in Durham, N.C., Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
Duke's Zion Williamson (1) speaks with teammates on the bench late in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Hartford in Durham, N.C. Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
Duke's Zion Williamson (1) listens to coach Mike Krzyzewski during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Yale in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
File- This Dec. 20, 2018, file photo shows Duke forward Zion Williamson (1) dunking the ball against Texas Tech during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in New York. Williamson is one of the names you may not know now but very well could by the end of 2019. They figure to come up big in the new year.(AP Photo/Adam Hunger, File)
Duke's Zion Williamson, front, saves a loose ball as Wake Forest's Isaiah Mucius, back, defends during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Winston-Salem, N.C., Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Duke's Zion Williamson (1) drives between Wake Forest's Ikenna Smart (35) and Jaylen Hoard during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Winston-Salem, N.C., Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Duke's Zion Williamson (1) is seen during a break in action against Syracuse during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. Syracuse won 95-91. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Duke's Zion Williamson (1) shoots a foul shot against Pittsburgh during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Duke's Zion Williamson (1) keeps his eyes fixed as he goes for a loose ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Boston College in Durham, N.C., Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)
Duke forward Zion Williamson (1) talks with forward Javin DeLaurier (12) during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Louisville in Louisville, Ky., Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. Duke won 71-69. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Duke's Zion Williamson (1) drives to the net against North Carolina State during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)
Duke's Zion Williamson (1) flashes a grin after his team made a play against North Carolina State during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)
Duke's Zion Williamson sits on the floor following an injury during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina in Durham, N.C., Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Duke's Zion Williamson (1) is attended to on the bench following an injury during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina in Durham, N.C., Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Duke's Zion Williamson, center, cheers after a basket from the bench during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Syracuse in Syracuse, N.Y., Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. Duke won 75-65. (AP Photo/Nick Lisi)
Duke's Zion Williamson applauds during player introductions prior to an NCAA college basketball game against Miami in Durham, N.C., Saturday, March 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Duke's Zion Williamson (1) reacts after a dunk against Syracuse during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, March 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Duke's Zion Williamson (1) smiles after a play against Syracuse during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, March 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Duke's Zion Williamson (1) and RJ Barrett (5) embrace as they leave the court after Duke defeated North Carolina in an NCAA college basketball game in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, March 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Duke's RJ Barrett, left, hugs Zion Williamson after Duke defeated Florida State in the NCAA college basketball championship game of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, March 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Duke's Zion Williamson (1) celebrates after Duke defeated Florida State in the NCAA college basketball championship game of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, March 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)
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More than a dunker

A 6-7, 285-pound power forward, Williamson displayed unprecedented athleticism for a player his size and tremendous skill with the ball and as a defender. If there’s a knock on his game, it’s that he’s not an elite shooter. There are also concerns that his size and physical playing style may hinder his prospects of long-term success at the next level.

Williamson suffered a knee sprain late when his shoe blew out against North Carolina late in the ACC season and missed the last five games of conference play before returning to the team for the ACC and NCAA tournaments.

Many suggested that Williamson should have remained sideline for the rest of the season to protect his health for the NBA draft, but he returned and played at his normally high level as Duke won the ACC tournament and advanced to the Elite 8, where the Blue Devils lost to Michigan State.

In addition to the obvious value Williamson provides on the court, his star power will immediately make the Pelicans a draw for fans. He’s the consensus No. 1 pick.

 

Morant, Barrett lead best of the rest

Barrett and former Murray State point guard Ja Morant are in the next tier of prospects behind Williamson as the likely second and third picks of the draft.

Like Williamson, Morant wowed crowds with his athleticism and highlight-reel dunks as a 6-3 point guard. Also like Williamson, he proved that he wasn’t just a dunker, but an elite scorer and playmaker whose game could translate into NBA stardom.

During his sophomore year, Morant averaged 24.5 points, 10 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game while shooting 49.9 percent from the field and 36.3 percent from the field.

He had perhaps his most impressive performance on the biggest of NCAA stages with a 17-point, 16-assist, 12-rebound triple-double in an NCAA tournament win over Marquette. It was the ninth triple-double in tournament history.

Barrett was considered the top incoming freshman in his class, but took a secondary role to Williamson with the Blue Devils.

The 6-7, 210-pound shooting guard has ideal NBA size for his position. He’s an outstanding athlete and a versatile scorer. He’ll need to improve his jump shot to become an elite scorer in the NBA.

Barrett averaged 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists at Duke while shooting 45.4 percent from the field and 30.8 percent from 3-point distance.

After Morant and Barrett, Reddish, North Carolina’s Coby White and Nassir Little, Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver, Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura and Virginia’s DeAndre Hunter are expected to be lottery picks.

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