With the first pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the New Orleans Pelicans already know exactly who they are selecting. Duke forward Zion Williamson going number one is as much of a sure thing as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle asking for a slice of pizza. Well, him being the top player in this draft is a sure thing but him going No. 1 to the Pelicans has some very unsure components to it.
For months, the majority of mock drafts you read had Williamson going to the New York Knicks, so much so that we all thought that was a forgone conclusion for some reason. Williamson himself probably saw himself in a big city like New York or at least a bigger basketball city than New Orleans.
Depending on your source, Williams is either very disappointed in going to the Pelicans or he is ready to get his NBA career started where ever it may be. If he truly is unhappy about the results of the draft lottery, what are his real options?
By not hiring an agent (yet) Williamson has the option to return to Duke for a Sophomore season. He would definitely be college basketball’s premier player for a second season but he could also complete the goal of winning a national title.
Out of all the scenarios, this doesn’t seem as farfetched as you think. He could carve out a historic second season and put his name deeper into the record books. Zion would still learn as a basketball player and continue to grow as a man under head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Only the lure of a lucrative NBA contract would be looming and the threat of injury would be real.
The Manning Formula:
Williamson could hire an agent at anytime but this wouldn’t guarantee the Pelicans are safe. If the Pelicans draft him and offer a required tender before July 15th, they own his draft rights for a year and if not signed after that time, he goes into the next NBA draft. With the super fan fare Williamson brings, what if he decided to tell New Orleans he just doesn’t want to play there?
It’s not like he would be starving for money with one of the most marketable names this century. You will see a number of companies offering him money to be the spokesperson for their products. Williamson could easily just say no to the Pelicans, sit back collect his endorsement money and just wait to be drafted again in 2020.
New Orleans would be thrust into a position where they would have to trade him. If they couldn’t work it out with the young phenom, then recouping some assets would be the best move. A most disheartening situation for the Pelicans when they got the first pick would be not to get the best player.
This move would all but end the Pelicans as a franchise. With superstar Anthony Davis already requesting a trade, a move like this by Williamson would make the Pelicans look like the worst destination ever. Would Williamson be so shrewd to do that and what would it say about him personally?
The Easy Call
Zion Williamson has most likely dreamed of playing in the NBA since he picked up a basketball. As a person, you can’t always dictate where you go in life and what changes come to you. Going to the Pelicans is not a death sentence and in fact, Williamson could take this as a challenge.
Why huff and puff about your destination if you going to be an NBA star anyway? The money will be there, the endorsements will be there and the fans won’t cheer any less. Williamson should take it as a challenge to be the star that the franchise has never had (sorry Davis).
Imagine him going there, catapulting the team to the playoffs and subsequent playoff wins. If the Duke star could go to New Orleans and change their fortunes, he would already be the biggest name in franchise history and who wouldn’t want that?
It’s understandable to want to play in an exciting basketball town but being a star means more than on the court play. This is a tough decision for the kid, especially if he’s really not sold on the Pelicans. Whatever he decides we will be talking about him heavily for the next couple of months and most likely the next several years.
This story however is just really starting to be written. Let’s wait and see what chapter one ultimately says.