The New Orleans Pelicans have set up a formal pre-draft meeting with likely top pick Zion Williamson, but it sounds like they’re already in love.
The Pelicans had already met with Williamson in Chicago in May, and they made no secret of how impressed by him they were, according to Scott Kushner of the Advocate.
The Pelicans’ top brass loved basically everything they’ve learned about Zion Williamson on background, & raved about meeting with him & family in Chicago.
This week’s visit to New Orleans is a chance for Zion to cement all of those fond notions and lock down No. 1 pick.
— Scott Kushner (@ScottDKushner) June 10, 2019
Williamson becoming the No. 1 pick is a virtual formality at this point, and this meeting should only cement it. With Anthony Davis’ impending departure, Williamson will immediately become the face of the franchise from the moment he’s selected.
An old quote Zion Williamson had a few years back about signing autographs went viral this week, but the way it is being presented is not entirely accurate.
Williamson made it a point to spend extra time signing autographs during his lone season in Duke, and that is something he has been passionate about since high school. When he was 16, Williamson said in a documentary about his team that he tries to sign every kid’s autograph because he knows how he would feel if an athlete he looked up to snubbed him.
“When I was little, I looked up to high school players and wanted their autographs and sometimes I couldn’t get it, I’d be hurt,” Williamson said at the time, via Marc Berman of the New York Post. “I said when I grew up, I don’t want to be like that. I want to sign every kid’s autograph. No matter how long it takes me.
“I try to sign every kid’s autograph. I don’t want to turn a little kid down because I know it will hurt them because it hurt me. Anthony Davis, John Wall turned me down. So I try to sign everybody’s.”
Apparently what Williamson said came off wrong. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, he didn’t mean that Davis and Wall actually turned down his autograph request. He was simply using them as part of an analogy.
Some context on Zion Williamson/Anthony Davis/John Wall autograph story being rehashed: Williamson has never met Davis or Wall, per source close to him. Neither snubbed him. Williamson was providing analogy using athletes he looked up to in high school, on why he signs for kids.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 21, 2019
That makes sense, because Williamson said in the video clip that he never actually got a chance to see Wall and Davis play:
I checked the video And it seems Zion was misquoted by they NY Post, he not only says he’s never met AD and John Wall but he also says he always signs autographs for kids because he would have been hurt “IF” AD and John Wall wouldn’t have signed their autograph for him https://t.co/E8LaDBeQRJ pic.twitter.com/AWRmdvR0XW
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) May 21, 2019
Everyone can relax now. Davis and Wall aren’t heartless autograph snubbers — at least not that we know of.
For such a young guy, Williamson seems to have the right attitude about being a superstar player. We saw that with the way he handled his unique situation at Duke, and the fact that he goes out of his way to sign as many autographs as possible is another great example.
- Zion Williamson
Zion Williamson is doing everything he can to put to rest any talk about him not wanting the New Orleans Pelicans to draft him.
On Thursday morning, Williamson’s stepfather told ESPN Radio that Zion returning to Duke for his sophomore season is “nothing that we have even considered.” There was also a report that Williamson had a positive meeting with the Pelicans this week, and now we have the 18-year-old’s high school coach saying he spoke with Williamson’s family and Zion would be “honored” to play for New Orleans.
Breaking: Zion Williamson’s high school coach (Lee Sartor) just joined us live and said Zion will not be returning to Duke nor will he ask for a trade.
In communication with Zion’s family, they’ve said Zion will be honored to be drafted by the @PelicansNBA.
— Marc Ryan (@MarcRyanOnAir) May 16, 2019
In other words, that narrative can go away.
Williamson went against the advice of many people by even playing an entire season for Duke last year, as he was considered the consensus No. 1 pick all along and was risking a potential injury. While he remained committed to Duke, playing another season when he is about to become the top pick in the NBA Draft would be an insane decision.
The reports about Williamson reacting a certain way during the draft lottery may have been true, but that does not mean he is going to go to great measures to avoid playing for the Pelicans. Every star player would like to hand-pick the team that drafts him, but it doesn’t work that way.
Even if Zion Williamson was initially disappointed that the New York Knicks did not land the top overall pick in the NBA Draft, it seems crazy to think he would potentially return to Duke for his sophomore season to avoid playing for the New Orleans Pelicans.
Just ask Richard Jefferson.
Jefferson, who played 17 seasons in the NBA and now works as an analyst for ESPN, had a hilarious reaction on “The Jump” this week when reporter Brian Windhorst began talking about Williamson’s “options” for boycotting New Orleans. We’ll let Jefferson’s facial expressions speak for themselves.
Richard Jefferson reacting to Brian Windhorst's BS about Zion returning to Duke pic.twitter.com/3NoHSsW8TP
— Heart of NBA (@HeartofNBA) May 16, 2019
Jefferson also mocked the narrative on Twitter.
Straight faced gang where you at ?!?…. https://t.co/BBazZ5RYlz
— Richard Jefferson (@Rjeff24) May 15, 2019
During an appearance on ESPN Radio Thursday, Williamson’s stepfather Lee Anderson said returning to Duke is “nothing that we have even considered.” A report also stated that Williamson had a positive meeting with the Pelicans and spoke highly of New Orleans prior to the draft lottery.
There was endless talk during the college basketball season last year about the risk Williamson was taking by not sitting out. Now that he is healthy and a lock to go first overall, playing another season of college ball would just be absurd. It’s not going to happen.
Like LeBron James, Zion Williamson is the type of freak athlete who could probably excel at just about any sport he tried to play. He certainly has the body type to match up with opponents on the football field, and New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton has taken note of that.
When the Pelicans landed the top spot in the NBA Draft Lottery Tuesday night, it seemed like only a matter of time before someone began recruiting Williamson to play two sports in New Orleans. Payton got in on the fun on Wednesday.
— Sean Payton (@SeanPayton) May 15, 2019
Williamson is listed at 6-foot-7, 285 pounds. For comparison, Rob Gronkowski is 6-foot-6 and weighed about 265 pounds when he was playing for the New England Patriots. There is obviously a lot more to excelling at a professional sport than physical makeup, but you get the point.
If you remember, one former Saints player said years ago that he believes LeBron would break records in the New Orleans offense. Payton was in charge of that offense then and still is now. What do you say, Zion?
A New York newspaper perfectly summed up the reaction to the outcome of the NBA draft lottery for the New York Knicks.
The Knicks entered the lottery as one of three teams with a 14 percent chance of landing the top pick in this year’s draft, which meant the opportunity to select Zion Williamson. Needless to say, Knicks fans weren’t happy to find out that New York would be picking third.
Knicks fans ain’t happy! Third overall pick. pic.twitter.com/71nOv8tfgj
— Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson (@ScoopB) May 15, 2019
As a result of the Knicks’ recent stretch of bad luck continuing, the New York Daily News will run a back page headline that encapsulates how many Knicks fans felt after Tuesday’s lottery.
— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) May 15, 2019
The No. 3 pick could still be used to select Ja Morant or R.J. Barrett, both of who are projected to have bright futures. However, the No. 1 pick and dreams of Zion Williamson playing home games in Madison Square Garden are what Knicks fans hoped for. It’s something he also reportedly was hoping for too. Unfortunately for them, that will not be happening.
- New York Knicks
Zion Williamson has been great in his dealings with the media about not tipping his hand regarding his preference of which NBA team he wanted to play for. But one report says he had a preference, and it did not come through the way he had hoped.
According to ESPN’s Marc J. Spears, Williamson was hoping the New York Knicks would win the draft lottery.
Zion Williamson was QUICKLY whisked out of the room after Pelicans were announced the winner of the draft lottery. Source said the former Duke star was rooting to go to New York, but now is going to New Orleans.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) May 15, 2019
Instead, the Knicks ended up with the No. 3 overall pick, while the New Orleans Pelicans won the top pick.
Any team that won the lottery has been expected to take Williamson with the top pick, as he’s believed to be the best player in the draft class. He’s also a huge ticket draw, just like this video could tell you.
Even if he had his preference, it probably won’t take long for Williamson to get used to the idea of playing for the Pelicans. Now that they have a new front office person in charge in David Griffin, they should be on a much better path moving forward. Williamson is a great starting point.
- Zion Williamson