Zion Williamson isn’t tasked with saving the basketball franchise in New Orleans, according to Pelicans executive VP of basketball ops David Griffin.
Williamson, the top pick in Thursday night’s NBA Draft, is “here to join this family.”
The Pels have agreed to trade Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers after he publicly demanded it back in February, and consider Zion’s highly-anticipated arrival a “watershed moment for us as a franchise.”
“One of the very first things I said to our staff in our first meeting was, ‘Someone make the case to me for Zion Williamson,'” Griffin said. “They thought I was kidding. I said no, seriously, talk me into Williamson and it took a while for anyone to formulate words. It is hard for people to express it.”
Selecting Williamson first was a predictable move, but a win the smarting Pelicans desperately needed.
“Oh you can hear people say things like, ‘Oh, that it was likely I was going to go No. 1,’ but I guess you don’t know until you actually go through it,” Williamson told reporters in New York. “Hearing my name called and I was able to make it on stage without a tear, shake the commissioner’s hand, but in the interview with my mom standing beside me, and my emotions just took over.”
Williamson, who has drawn comparisons to a young LeBron James, might not transform the franchise overnight. After all, he is only 18 years old.
“This is Jrue Holiday’s team,” Griffin said. “Zion is going to be learning how to win at a really high level. At some point, if there is a time that the baton gets passed in terms of who is expected to carry us to win games, it will. That is not now. Let Zion be that kid. Don’t write this like he is here to save this franchise. He is not. He is here to join this family.”
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