The New Orleans Pelicans claimed the No. 1 pick in next month's NBA Draft -- also known as first dibs on Duke phenom Zion Williamson -- in a topsy-turvy draft lottery Tuesday night that broke hearts in New York and changed the power dynamics of the league.
It was a stroke of incredible fortune for the Pelicans, a franchise that hasn't seen much of it since its inception. The Pelicans entered the lottery with a 6 percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick and just a 26 percent chance of even landing in the top four.
Williamson, an electrifying forward who is widely regarded as the top prospect this season, now appears headed to New Orleans. Whether Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis, who has demanded a trade, ever suits up with him remains to be seen.
The Memphis Grizzlies moved up to the No. 2 spot. The New York Knicks, the worst team in the NBA this season, wound up with the No. 3 pick, missing out on the chance to draft Williamson.
The Knicks’ failure to win the lottery (they had a 14 percent chance of getting the No. 1 pick, as did the Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns, who fell to No. 5 and No. 6, respectively) could play a role in Kevin Durant’s free-agent decision. The Golden State Warriors star has been linked heavily with a move to New York this summer, as has Boston’s Kyrie Irving. The Knicks could opt to trade the No. 3 pick -- including in a potential package for Davis.
Ja Morant, RJ Barrett, De'Andre Hunter are likely to join Williamson in the top five of the draft.
Here is the draft order for the lottery picks:
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, via Dallas Mavericks
11. Minnesota Timberwolves
12. Charlotte Hornets
13. Miami Heat
14. Boston Celtics, via Sacramento Kings