Pelicans win NBA Draft Lottery throwing twist into Anthony Davis sweepstakes

Associated Press
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Anthony Davis and Zion Williamson together in New Orleans?

That’s not likely to happen — Davis’ camp quickly sent out word their trade demand stood — but for a Pelicans’ fan base that felt betrayed and punched in the gut, this result makes the inevitable Davis trade easier to swallow.

The New Orleans Pelicans won the NBA Draft Lottery and will draft Zion Williamson No. 1 (that’s not official yet, but come on).

How did Pelicans’ coach Alvin Gentry and president David Griffin feel about it?

This result throws a wrench in the plans of teams that wanted to use the pick to jump into the Davis sweepstakes — we’re looking at you, New York Knicks — but gave other teams, such as the Lakers, another asset that could be part of a trade for Davis or another star player.

The Pelicans had a six percent chance of landing the top pick but leapfrogged up to the top spot, where they will undoubtedly take the Duke star. The NBA flattened out the lottery odds in hopes of reducing tanking by teams — the team with the worst record in the league went from having a 25 percent chance at the top spot to just 14 percent — and it worked, there was a lot of lottery movement.

Memphis and the L.A. Lakers all jumped also jumped up into the top four, joining the New York Knicks. That pushed Cleveland, Phoenix, and Chicago down the ladder.

Here is the NBA Draft order.

1. New Orleans
2. Memphis
3. New York
4. L.A. Lakers
5. Cleveland
6. Phoenix
7. Chicago
8. Atlanta
9. Washington
10. Atlanta (via Dallas)
11. Minnesota
12. Charlotte
13. Miami
14. Boston (via Sacramento)

Some other quick thoughts out of the lottery.

• Memphis will likely take consensus No. 2 pick Ja Morant with their selection, which makes it even more likely they trade Mike Conley this summer.

• The Celtics will take this result because Memphis still owes a pick to Boston. Said pick is top-6 protected in 2020. If it doesn’t convey to Boston in 2020, it becomes unprotected in 2021. That is more valuable in a trade package for someone such as Davis.

• The Lakers had a 78 percent chance of selecting 11th, by jumping up to No. 4 they have a more valuable trade asset — if they can get back in the Davis sweepstakes, or can target someone else — or at the very least a better young player to go with their young core.

Kyle Kuzma, the Lakers’ representative at the Draft Lottery, on the team jumping seven spots: “Must have been my purple jacket.” I thought it was the Hand of the King pin he wore on his lapel for the event.

• The Knicks had hoped to land the top spot to use that pick — read: Zion — to tempt the Pelicans in a potential Davis trade. Now it’s more difficult to construct a Knicks trade that would tempt the Pelicans, New York has other young players and future picks, but the Pels don’t want to totally bottom out. Never say never, but the odds got longer for New York.

• Atlanta has two picks at 8 and 11, but don’t expect them to package the picks to move up in the draft. First, that just doesn’t happen as often in the NBA as it does in the NFL or other sports. Second, there aren’t a lot of players worth moving up for in what is seen as a down draft after No. 1, and teams with the top picks will not give them up for later picks.