The New Orleans Pelicans won the NBA draft lottery on Tuesday and are expected to select Zion Williamson with the No. 1 overall pick on June 20. There has been speculation that Williamson would prefer to return to Duke rather than play in New Orleans—Williamson's stepfather cleared the rumors. So should Zion be happy to play in New Orleans while the future of Anthony Davis remains unclear?
On the latest Crossover Podcast, Chris Mannix and Jeremy Woo dive into a wild night at the NBA draft lottery in Chicago and discuss the potential No. 1 pick and more.
(Listen to the latest Crossover podcast here. The following transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Chris Mannix: The first question I have for you as someone that has covered Zion Williamson throughout the course of this year. What do you think he's thinking today? I mean he was there at the lottery and everyone was kind of pointing him in the direction of the Knicks. I love Knicks fans on social media getting just absolutely miserable over something that had an 86% chance of happening and a 14% chance of landing that top overall pick—and they're just shocked that they didn't get number one. What do you think Zion is thinking right now? Because he was always kind of earmarked for New York. He was asked all the time what about the Knicks. I think for a teenager it must have settled into his brain on some level that that he was gonna be a Knick.
Jeremy Woo: Yeah, you know it's probably just cause he's processing all this stuff. I can imagine he has more than like two interviews today. But you know he's here and he's going through it. I think at the end of the day, I think he should be happy with how it turned out. I mean barring some crazy thing happening, New Orleans winning this result just totally changed the trajectory of that organization. Whether or not they keep Anthony Davis, you know now if you're trading him you're gonna get whatever you want back and you'll have Zion to build around—whether that's more picks or another player or whatever. It’s a big trump card for them. And you know with David Griffin, there is organization there. He’s a guy who's won with LeBron. You know he knows how to manage and deal with the expectations when you have a star. So I think it's pretty all things considered. They also they have such a small media contingent there right? So maybe he will avoid the cameras a little bit.
Mannix: Yeah, it's definitely a different lifestyle if he goes down to New Orleans. I mean he is going to New Orleans. There's zero chance that they trade that draft pick in fact the Pelicans are in an unbelievable position right now. I haven't talked to anybody in Davis's inner circle in the last 24 hours but I don't believe that this changed the calculus for him at all.
I think there's still a commitment amongst people around him and him himself to get out and preferably get to the Lakers. You know that's still their top objective and the Lakers certainly improved their chances of making a Davis deal. But even if they have to trade him, I mean you now have Zion Williamson to build around and whatever Anthony Davis brings back.
I've always said that Anthony Davis should fetch a Herschel Walker type of package. He should be the biggest trade package in NBA history because of his age and his skill set. But as far as Zion goes put into context for me just how good is he? He's clearly the consensus number one. But would he be the consensus number one in like every draft in the last 10 years? Would there be a debate in some other drafts?
Woo: I think in most drafts, I think if you just look at the season that he had and the way in which he did what he did and you look at him as a you know the total package as a guy. I think there are a lot of drafts where he would be the consensus number one.
Now what that means is not necessarily commensurate with projecting him but I think that there's definitely a clear pathway for him to sort of dominate in a way that we haven't seen before because he's so unique. I think in my mind the vision with him has always been developing to the point where you can put the ball in his hands a lot of the time because you know you can spread it out and put shooters around him. He's a good passer. I think it's still an underrated part of his game and he has to get better off the dribble.
Hopefully he can stay in shape. You have to hope he doesn't get hurt. I think the injury concerns, it's legitimate to bring that up, It won't change the calculus for New Orleans. But if you can keep him on the right trajectory—I think he might be a type of guy you see so many teams going away from the traditional point guard. You know you've got Ben Simmons you have the guys like that who are good enough to sort of break the game in some ways. I think you might be one of those guys if it all goes according to plan and if not he's. You know he'll still be productive in other ways to where it's not a total wash.