Pelicans Snag the First Pick

Pelicans+Snag+the+First+Pick

David Facaros

After months of anticipation and a race to the bottom of the standings by several teams, the New Orleans Pelicans shocked everyone by winning the N.B.A. draft lottery on Tuesday night, giving them the No. 1 pick in a draft that will include one of the most hyped prospects in league history, Duke’s Zion Williamson.

For the Pelicans to win the lottery, the three teams with the worst records this season the Knicks (17-65), the Cleveland Cavaliers (19-63) and the Phoenix Suns (19-63)  had to lose again. They each came into the night with a 14 percent chance of getting the top pick in a new system designed to reduce the value of finishing at the very bottom. The Knicks ended up with the No. 3 pick, the Cavaliers with No. 5 and the Suns with No. 6.

Senior Adam Hascher said, “It was very surprising to see the Pelicans get the first pick.”

Regardless of whether New Orleans stays at No. 1 or trades the pick, the top choice in the draft will almost assuredly be used on the 18-year-old Williamson, a player who has received as much attention as any amateur since LeBron James went straight to the N.B.A. from high school in 2003.

The night could not have played out better for David Griffin, who was named the executive vice president of basketball operations for the Pelicans in April and looks to make some big-time moves this offseason.