The New Orleans Pelicans have selected Duke product Zion Williamson with the first overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft and received a grade of an “A” from CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish. Here’s what Parrish had to say about Williamson.
He is the Incredible Hulk of basketball. We have never seen a player quite like Williamson. He is a special talent, but forget that: He is worth the hype, and he will be worth that in many millions of dollars to the New Orleans Pelicans. They lose Anthony Davis and immediately gain a new face of the franchise. The only pick that could have been made here. Grade: A
Williamson, the one-and-done star from Duke, had long been considered the favorite to be drafted No. 1 overall. He shined as a Blue Devil in his lone collegiate season, averaging 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 1.8 blocks per game while simultaneously producing jaw-dropping highlights.
Williamson’s athletic feats are all the more impressive considering his 6-foot-7, 285 pound frame. What he can do on the court — how he glides, how he recovers, how he flies — is both unnatural and unbelievable.
“He’s graceful,”before Williamson went on to become college basketball’s supernova. “His lateral movement and speed and anticipation is off the charts. He can drive, he can post up, he understands the really game well. I know that everyone has watched him on YouTube with all the dunking and obviously that’s impressive but he’s a heck of a basketball player.”
New Orleans’ decision to do the obvious and draft Williamson continues an ongoing theme of dominance for Duke in the draft. He is the ninth top-10 draft pick from the school since 2011, and the second No. 1 pick since that same span joining Kyrie Irving, who was selected first overall in 2011 by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Though drafting at No. 1 typically indicates a team’s struggles — the worse the team is, the better luck of winning the lottery — the Pelicans are inheriting Williamson under unique circumstances. They traded away six-time All-Star Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers last week, and in return acquired Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and a stash of draft capital.
If Williamson’s dominance translates to even competence as a rookie in 2019 for New Orleans, the franchise could steer its newly-acquired talent into a perennial playoff contender in the Western Conference. Since the 2010 season, the Pelicans have thrice made the playoffs and twice been eliminated in the first round.