It was a coronation 38 days in the making. Tonight, it became official. Zion Williamson is a New Orleans Pelican.
Amid great pomp and circumstance at the Barclays Center in New York on Thursday night, Williamson was selected with the No. 1 overall pick by the Pelicans in the 2019 NBA Draft. The former Duke basketball star, heralded as the greatest talent to enter the league since LeBron James, flashed a wide-brimmed smile as he stood next to commissioner Adam Silver, who announced his entry into the league.
Williamson instantly becomes one of the faces of the NBA, a league dominated by stars with oversized personalities. Zion seems to ditch the ego and self-aggrandizing many other young phenoms showcase in favor of a more down to earth, relaxed demeanor. Make no mistake, his magnetism is palpable for anybody who has been in the same room with the 18-year-old from South Carolina, but his laissez faire attitude should fit perfectly in New Orleans. The city is known as The Big Easy for a reason, after all.
The Pelicans now have their franchise centerpiece in place, and have already started to build around him. Williamson averaged 22.6 points per game on 68% shooting at Duke, and has a unique blend of size, strength, and natural basketball ability. He'll be surrounded by other young players, including Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart, the franchise's newly acquired trio from the Lakers.
They will be joined by other first-rounders picked up by the Pelicans Thursday night, Texas center Jaxson Hayes and Virginia Tech shooting guard Nickeil Alexander.
Veteran guard Jrue Holiday will be expected to mentor his young teammates as they lay the foundation to contend for NBA championships in future seasons.
But today, it's all about the charismatic kid from South Carolina. The Zion Williamson era is here for the Pelicans.