New Orleans Pelicans: 5 reasons Zion Williamson is a no-brainer at No. 1

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images /
4 of 6
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images /

3. The Pelicans don’t have to watch him play for another team

Picking a player in the NBA Draft by definition means not picking every other available player. At the top, the decisions often come down to just a handful of players, and the choice between them can be gargantuan. The Portland Trail Blazers had to spend the next 15 years watching Michael Jordan play for the Bulls. They had to do the same with Kevin Durant playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder. It can be an emotional toll on a franchise.

That will be the case for New Orleans and its fans if they do anything but draft and play Zion Williamson. If they decide they would rather have Ja Morant, or R.J. Barrett (incredibly unlikely, but theoretically possible), they will have to watch Williamson dunk all over the league wearing another jersey — likely that of their division rival, the Memphis Grizzlies.

It’s a similar reality if they trade the pick. Could the Pelicans try to flip the tables and become an instant-contender around Davis, flipping Williamson to, say, the Washington Wizards for Bradley Beal and Thomas Bryant? It’s a crazy idea, but this organization has tried to accelerate the clock before, and for all his ability, Williamson is still a rookie next season.

Yet that would mean seeing Zion in the nation’s capital destroying opponents. It would mean potentially seeing him advance deep into the playoffs over the course of his career. Even with a tremendous haul — picks, players, an established star — they will have to deal with the pain of seeing him thrive elsewhere. Everything points to Williamson not just succeeding, but thriving on whatever team selects him. The Pelicans won’t let that be anyone else.