NEW YORK — As Zion Williamson prepares to be taken with the No. 1 total choose within the NBA Draft by the New Orleans Pelicans Thursday evening, he declared that he is not apprehensive about any comparisons to gamers who got here earlier than him.
“Truthfully, with the comparability stuff, it is good, it is cool, however I do not look into it,” Williamson stated Wednesday morning on the league’s pre-draft media availability in midtown Manhattan.
“I simply look to be myself. I am not making an attempt to be no person.
“I am simply making an attempt to be the primary Zion.”
That can actually be greater than adequate for New Orleans, which is predicted to make Williamson the highest choose.
After averaging 22.6 factors, eight.9 rebounds, 1.eight steals and a couple of.1 blocks at Duke, displaying an unprecedented mixture of dimension, energy and velocity, the one query was who would get the possibility to draft Williamson first total. That was answered final month, when the Pelicans leaped to the highest of the draft and received the fitting to pick the generational prospect.
That — together with the Los Angeles Lakers leaping as much as the No. four spot — helped pave the best way for Pelicans star Anthony Davis to be despatched to the Lakers in a commerce over the weekend, permitting Williamson to stroll in because the unequivocal face of the franchise.
Simply do not strive telling that to Williamson, who was the one particular person refusing to say he was assured to be taken with the highest choose.
“I simply wish to be within the NBA,” he stated. “I did not have a favourite crew rising up. Simply to be within the NBA is all I ask for.
“No matter crew I finish with, I do know I will give my all.”
When requested his ideas on the Davis commerce, and the place he was over the weekend when it went down, he stated he was at a driving vary in Durham, North Carolina.
“I checked out my cellphone and I used to be getting talked about on Twitter quite a bit,” Williamson stated, “they usually have been similar to, ‘Anthony Davis has been traded for these three gamers.’
“He is a grown man. He can do what he desires. However proper now, I am simply centered on which crew I will go to and take a look at to slot in as greatest as I can.”
Williamson lately visited New Orleans for the primary time, and stated he loved the journey. However he additionally made positive to debunk a narrative going round about hen tenders.
“Town was simply very welcoming,” he stated. “All over the place I went, I am strolling down the road and individuals are high-fiving me, saying they hope I come right here. I have been seeing some folks saying I received hen tenders. No, that was my 5-year-old brother that did that.
“I received fried shrimp with some mashed potatoes.”
Along with his personal immense stardom, Williamson additionally has connections with a number of different gamers on this 12 months’s draft. Projected No. 2 total choose Ja Morant is a fellow South Carolina native who as soon as performed on the identical AAU crew as him, whereas No. three choose R.J. Barrett and sure prime 10 choice Cam Reddish each performed with Williamson at Duke this previous season.
Naturally, chunk of his time Wednesday was spent answering questions on them — particularly Morant and Barrett, who’s more likely to be a Knick.
“The way in which he threw lobs at Murray State, he was doing it again then,” Williamson stated of Morant. “I might make backdoor cuts, and I did not suppose he would see me. However he’d put it within the good spot.
“Can I sit right here and say I knew Ja could be this good? I can not say that. I knew he’d be good however to not this stage. For him to be right here and to be like a top-three choose, it means quite a bit to me, it means quite a bit to the state of South Carolina.”
In the meantime, Williamson is assured Barrett will probably be all the pieces that the Knicks followers hope they’re going to get.
“I feel if R.J. will get drafted by New York, he’ll deal with it,” Williamson stated. “Not simply good, however nice. Higher than folks anticipate.
“R.J. is cold-blooded. He is constructed for folks doubting him or telling him he is not prepared. R.J. is constructed for that. I received to see it first-hand at Duke. I do not doubt R.J. within the slightest. If he will get drafted out right here, he will come out right here and deal with his enterprise.
“I feel they’re going to get an amazing participant.”
Williamson, who was relaxed and smiling all through his half-hour chat with a big throng of reporters, seemed utterly comfy with the world he is about to be strolling into. And, he stated, he does not perceive why anybody ought to suppose he’d be feeling any in another way.
“I do not actually see the strain,” Williamson stated. “I am doing what I like to do, and that is play basketball. I do not attempt to dwell as much as no person’s expectations. They’ll set them there, I do not attempt to dwell as much as them.
“I simply attempt to be me. Be the very best model of myself that I might be.”
He did, nevertheless, acknowledge he is not positive how he’ll deal with truly being drafted.
“Truthfully, I do not know,” he stated. “I do not understand how I will react. I do not know if I will cry or have this large smile on my face.
“We’ll see tomorrow evening. However I do know I am very enthusiastic about it.”