For some reason, a pocket of NBA fans and pundits believe Zion Williamson — the de facto No. 1 overall pick in this year’s upcoming NBA Draft — should go back to Duke for a year because the New Orleans Pelicans unexpectedly won the draft lottery, not the New York Knicks.
Seriously. Here are some tweets from real-life verified accounts here to prove it:
If I’m Zion, I’m staying at Duke. You just saw the @PelicansNBA waste 7 years of AD, you really want to be irrelevant right out the gates of your career? Unless he can go Eli and demand a trade on draft day.
— 31 Savage (@AaronTheEra) May 15, 2019
Here’s something to think about: what’s to stop Zion from using the leverage of going back to Duke to squeeze New Orleans into a trade? Use The Google and look up what Kiki VanDeWeghe did to the Mavs back in 1980, and didn’t have the options Zion has. @coopmavs
— Bob Rathbun (@BobRathbunTV) May 15, 2019
Williamson even said he considered staying at Duke for his sophomore season because he loves Duke and if he “didn’t have as much at stake,” he would stay another year.
Returning to Duke might be the worst decision Williamson could possibly make, and any grown adults with any semblance of clout should be side-eyed into oblivion if that’s their actual opinion. Here are all the reasons why Williamson shouldn’t just accept his fate as the face of the Pelicans, he should embrace it.
That’s how much money Williamson will make before taxes when the Pelicans offer him 120 percent of the rookie scale, and that doesn’t even include endorsements or the shoe deal with whichever company throws the kitchen sink at him.
That is absolutely life-changing money, no matter how much is taken away in taxes. A kid from Spartanburg, South Carolina would be able to retire his parents and live the life of his wildest dreams, playing professional basketball in the best league on the planet.
He’ll also be starting his second contract a year sooner — which is when players are really able to cash in. There’s a major benefit to being a year younger as he starts every subsequent contract of his career.
He’s not giving that up — because hE dOeSn’T wAnT tO pLaY iN nEw OrLeAnS.
The food is amazing. The atmosphere is incredible. The night life is electric. Mardi Gras in New Orleans is unmatched. It’s not New York City, but it also isn’t Spartanburg, South Carolina. That’s what Williamson knows. He even said he hasn’t been to New Orleans. Take him to Bourbon Street, get that man some beads, and he’ll be just fine.
Williamson already watched his playing career flash before his eyes. He suffered a Grade-I knee sprain when his sneakers exploded mid-game back in February, but it could have been far worse — and if it was, he never would have seen a penny for it. There is no benefit to returning to Duke.
Approximately $0, which is how much college basketball players are paid. Actually, the word “approximately” is being generous.
If the Knicks won the draft lottery, selected Williamson and opted to keep him, they still would have tried their best to (and probably successfully) signed both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving this summer.
That would have taken the ball out of Williamson’s hands. Instead, we get to see a team literally build a shrine dedicated to a player unlike the league has ever seen.
This is his team. When Drew Brees retires, New Orleans will be Zion’s city. David Griffin helped build a championship contender around LeBron James in Cleveland. This is the man holding the keys to your future. I’d like my chances, too.
The Knicks could have traded Williamson in a package for Anthony Davis. Maybe this was just fate playing itself out.
How could you not want to play for this man?!
I mean, there a handful of people I’d want to have sitting court side and cheering me on at a basketball game. Wayne is a big Pelicans fan but doesn’t show to games very often. Now, he has a reason to.
Zion’s stepdad already said he’s excited about New Orleans
Zion Williamson’s step-father, Lee Anderson, says on the Off the Bench radio show in Baton Rouge that Zion is “excited about the prospect of getting down there and getting settled” in New Orleans & added that returning to Duke “is not something that we have even considered.”
— Jeff Duncan (@JeffDuncan_) May 16, 2019
Sources: Zion Williamson met in Chicago with the New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies, the top two teams in the Draft lottery. Williamson had a positive meeting with New Orleans and prior to lottery, he cited Pelicans as a targeted team to start career.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 16, 2019
You can listen to the whole interview here.
Williamson can technically go back to Duke. He hasn’t yet signed an agent, and if a) he’s hellbent on not playing in New Orleans; and b) the Pelicans are hellbent on keeping pick No. 1; he could absolutely return to Cameron Indoor Stadium and run it back.
That would just be a straight-up terrible decision. Secure the bag, Zion. And secure your city.