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SportsPulse: The whole lot factors to Zion being a generational expertise however there are elements of his sport that also want work. HoopsHype’s Alex Kennedy dishes on the questions he nonetheless must reply.
USA TODAY

CHICAGO — The Zion Williamson sweepstakes have been gained.

The New Orleans Pelicans have been lucky to show up the franchise-changing ping pong ball to win the No. 1 decide at Tuesday night time’s NBA draft lottery, regardless of coming into the day with only a 6% likelihood of successful. They beat out 13 different hopeful groups seeking to draft Williamson, the Duke sensation who’s the presumptive high decide in June after a highlight-reel freshman season by which he was faculty basketball’s nationwide participant of the yr.

It was New Orleans’ first No. 1 decide since Anthony Davis in 2012. The Memphis Grizzlies bought the second decide, one other shock. 

The New York Knicks, a storied franchise seeking to rework right into a contender through the draft and free company after years of struggles, obtained the third decide on this yr’s draft. They have been on the unsuitable aspect of a brand new system carried out by the NBA designed to discourage tanking.

Beforehand, the group with the worst report (New York went a league-worst 17-65 this previous season) had a 25% likelihood of getting the highest decide. This yr the group with the three worst information — the Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers (fifth) and Phoenix Suns (sixth) — all had an equal 14% likelihood on the high decide. However the brand new system benefited groups close to the center extra — permitting the Pelicans, Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers to maneuver up. 

The Lakers (fourth) moved up the a lot of the 14 groups within the lottery, and now the LeBron James-led group will get an influence participant for buying and selling or including to its younger nucleus.

Williamson made Duke a must-watch group all season lengthy earlier than the Blue Devils bowed out within the Elite Eight of the NCAA match. He averaged 22.6 factors and eight.9 rebounds a sport as a freshman, taking the faculty basketball world by storm along with his windmill dunks and brute drive as a 6-7, 285-pound ahead. Coach Mike Krzyzewski calls Williamson the “most original athlete he’s ever coached.”

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But Williamson, additionally an elite passer and shot-blocker, desires to be often known as greater than a spotlight reel. “I need to be outlined as a participant that might do every little thing for his group,” Williamson mentioned Tuesday on the lottery. “After I was a child, my dream was simply to get to the NBA. …Lots of people see me as a celebrity. I’m an 18/19-year-old rookie.”

Williamson’s All-American teammate, RJ Barrett, can also be thought-about a top-three decide alongside Murray State level guard Ja Morant. Barrett led Duke in scoring with 22.9 factors a sport and carried the Blue Devils throughout Williamson’s six-game damage absence late within the season. Earlier than Williamson’s celeb dominated headlines, Barrett was thought-about a viable No. 1 decide. Requested Tuesday whether or not he felt like the perfect participant within the draft, Barrett didn’t draw back regardless of his bond with Williamson: “In fact. …Sure, I do imagine I’m the perfect participant (within the draft class).”

Morant, who led the nation in assists, performed for a mid-major program however made an enormous splash within the NCAA match’s first spherical when he recorded a triple-double to assist the Racers upset Marquette. Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura, Virginia’s DeAndre Hunter, Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver, North Carolina’s Coby White and Duke’s Cam Reddish are a handful of the opposite anticipated top-10 picks.

Draft order: 

1. Pelicans

2. Grizzlies 

three. Knicks

four. Lakers 

5. Cavaliers 

6. Suns

7. Bulls

eight. Hawks

9. Wizards 

10. Hawks (through Mavericks)

11. Timberwolves 

12. Hornets

13. Warmth

14. Celtics (through Kings)

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