Profitable Williamson: Pelicans land No. 1 decide

11:40 PM ET

Tim BontempsESPN

CHICAGO — Forward of this yr’s NBA draft lottery, the New Orleans Pelicans held a contest for a season-ticket holder to submit a fortunate attraction to want the crew success.

The winner, Connie Halphen, gave Pelicans government vice chairman of basketball operations David Griffin a 56-year-old picket angel.

It turned out to be precisely what the Pelicans wanted.

1 Associated

New Orleans leapt up from the seventh spot to the highest of this yr’s draft Tuesday night time, incomes the appropriate to take Zion Williamson in subsequent month’s NBA draft. The Pelicans had only a 6 p.c probability to win the lottery.

“Connie had a good-luck attraction and it occurred to be an angel,” Griffin stated. “It was becoming.”

Congrats to Connie from Metairie for profitable our Fortunate Appeal Sweepstakes!

She received tickets to the opener and a signed jersey by our prime decide at this yr’s Draft!

David Griffin will take her fortunate Angel with him to Chicago to assist our luck within the lottery!

— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) Could 13, 2019

New Orleans profitable the lottery capped a wild night time that noticed three groups — the Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers — leap far up the order, throwing chaos into probably the most anticipated drafts in latest reminiscence.

The primary shock was when the Lakers had been revealed to have jumped up from the 11th spot — a second that drew gasps from the gang contained in the Chicago Hilton ballroom. An analogous response occurred when the Washington Wizards had been revealed to have the ninth decide — which means the Grizzlies and Pelicans had jumped up.

“I wasn’t adequate at math to appreciate when the Washington Wizards got here up ninth,” Griffin stated with a smile. “It is an unimaginable blessing for our group.”


— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) Could 15, 2019

The following piece of drama got here when the fifth choice was ready to be unveiled. After a second, NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum revealed that the Cleveland Cavaliers would have the fifth decide — which means the New York Knicks, who had the worst report final season, had jumped up into the highest 4.

“I simply sat again and hoped it was going to be No. 1,” stated Patrick Ewing, the crew’s most up-to-date No. 1 decide, 34 years in the past, and who was representing the Knicks on the dais right here.

It wasn’t to be, although, because the Lakers would get the fourth decide and the Knicks the third.

The winner would then come right down to both the Grizzlies or Pelicans — two groups that had tied, together with the Dallas Mavericks, for the seventh-best odds.

The Pelicans acquired the good thing about the pingpong balls bouncing their method final month to obtain the seventh lottery spot in a tiebreaker course of. They then acquired them to bounce the appropriate method once more Tuesday in profitable the prospect to pick out Williamson, the consensus prime prospect.

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“I do not need to deal with particular person gamers,” Griffin stated with a smile, shortly after getting an enormous hug from New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry, “however I believe it is actually good on the prime.”

Williamson advised ESPN’s Maria Taylor he has by no means been to New Orleans, however he stated he’ll deliver his “will to win” to whichever crew finally ends up drafting him.

“I do not know why, I am simply nonetheless nervous,” Williamson stated. “Possibly as a result of … all eyes had been on me. And I believe it is quite a bit to soak up, ‘trigger I do not know the place I am gonna be.”

This yr marked the primary time since 2005 that the NBA’s lottery system underwent any adjustments. Below the prior system, having the worst report within the NBA meant having a 25 p.c probability of profitable the highest decide, with every subsequent decide right down to the ultimate spot within the lottery — the 14th choice — having a lesser probability of profitable. The league would draw for every of the highest three spots within the lottery.

Beginning this yr, nonetheless, the groups with the three worst information had precisely the identical probability — 14 p.c — of profitable the lottery, adopted by a way more gradual change within the percentages of leaping up. As well as, the NBA boosted the variety of lottery spots out there for the drawing from three to 4.

The adjustments got here in response to the league seeing a difficulty with groups tanking for prime picks within the draft — and after the crew with the worst report had received the lottery in every of the previous 4 years.

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