The New Orleans Pelicans drafted forward Zion Williamson with the first pick of the 2019 NBA Draft Thursday, anointing him as the new face of the franchise to replace the departing Anthony Davis.
Williamson, who averaged 22.6 points and 8.9 rebounds while shooting 68 percent from the field in his one season at Duke, has been the consensus No. 1 choice for months, making the Pelicans’ draft decision the easiest since the Cleveland Cavaliers selected LeBron James with the first pick back in 2003.
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The 6-foot-7, 285-pound Williamson will have more of a burden placed on him after the Pelicans agreed over the weekend to trade Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for point guard Lonzo Ball, forward Brandon Ingram, shooting guard Josh Hart and three first-round draft choices.
Pelicans General Manager David Griffin did some more dealing before the draft, flipping the No. 4 pick New Orleans acquired from the Lakers to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for the No. 8, No. 17 and No. 35 overall picks, along with a protected first-round pick from Cleveland in 2020 that Atlanta had. In addition to the No. 4 pick, the Hawks will receive the No. 57 overall pick, a future second-round pick and forward Solomon Hill from New Orleans.
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Neither the Davis trade nor the trade with the Hawks can be finalized until July 6 — coincidentally, Williamson’s 19th birthday — when the moratorium marking the start of the new NBA year comes to an end.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.