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May 15, 2019, 10:35:00 AM

Pelicans boost their 2019/20 chances by landing Zion Williamson

The New Orleans Pelicans may have been out of the frame in the last regular season, but the way the cards are being dealt for them, they could well be on track for much better performance in 2019/20.

They have just secured the number one pick in the draft next month, where Zion Williamson stands head and shoulders above the rest of the competition. Both his height and talent leave many to tip him to become the next player to reach the superstardom heights currently occupied by LeBron James.

Thanks to the draft lottery, the Pelicans shot up from seventh place and just a 6% chance of landing the first pick to being guaranteed to get it, which now completely changes the game for them.

Other surprise movers up the draft pick list included the Memphis Grizzlies, which now stands to benefit from the second choice, while the New York Knicks have the third choice, which is a huge boost given that they were at bottom of the NBA standings last year. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers ended up with fourth, and the Cleveland Cavaliers nabbed the fifth spot.

The lottery changes were introduced to give a fairer chance to the teams at the bottom of the standings to benefit from the draft picks.

For the Pelicans, this puts their expected trade of Anthony Davis in a completely different light. He was expected to be shipped out to allow a bumper crop of players to come in and enable New Orleans to start rebuilding. However, with Williamson set to come on board, they could well change their mind.

Davis might be in the final year of his contract, but he could be tempted into new terms if the Pelicans show enough ambition in the trade market. New Orleans president David Griffin spoke before the lottery spots were announced, saying he was “excited about what we could potentially build here”. This week’s developments likely boosted his enthusiasm.

While Davis may opt to leave anyway, they are sure to pull some strings and get some good talent either way. With Williamson being the focal centre if Davis leaves, they will have someone to build the squad around once more, and if Davis stays, they could be in a great position to push for the playoffs in the West once again.

Words: Josh Dixon

Images: PA