Pelicans won the 2019 draft lottery, despite a 6% chance to win and will take Duke’s Zion Williamson.
The last time the Pelicans won the lottery was 2012, when they had 13% chance. They drafted Anthony Davis.
Davis is on his way out as Zion is on his way in. Why does Davis want out? Maybe it’s because Pelicans have mortgaged their future time and time again having very few draft picks over the past 7 years.
With Anthony Davis on the roster, between 2012-2019, the Pelicans compiled a record of 251-323 (44%), making the playoffs just twice. They were swept in 2015 (and now-Suns head coach Monty Williams was fired). And in 2018, they won just their second playoff series since the franchise moved to New Orleans (first since 2008), sweeping the Blazers, before losing to the Warriors in five games.
2012 – Drafted Anthony Davis #1 and Austin Rivers #10
Davis was the obvious consensus choice at the time and even in hindsight, remains the obvious consensus choice. The only flaw in Davis’ game has been his health. He has played in 466 out of a possible 574 games in his 7 year career. In those 7 years, he has averaged 23.7 ppg and 10.5 rpg.
Rivers was drafted with the #10 pick, which was part of the 2011 Chris Paul trade that sent him to the Clippers for Eric Gordon, Al Farouq-Aminu, and Chris Kaman. Rivers spent 3.5 years with New Orleans, before being traded in 2015. He was initially sent to the Celtics in a three team deal that involved the Grizzlies receiving Jeff Green and the Pelicans receiving Quincy Pondexter. Celtics never used Rivers, trading him days later to the Clippers, to play for his father, in a deal for mostly backups and draft picks.
2013 – Drafted Nerlens Noel #7 and immediately traded him to Philly
Picking Noel a year after Davis felt weird at the time, until you saw what the plan was. This was the start of “the process” for Philly, who sent Jrue Holiday to New Orleans for Noel. Noel tore his ACL at the end of his only year at Kentucky and missed his whole rookie season.
Noel had #1 overall hype during his season at Kentucky, but the knee injury hurt his stock and he never really got back. For his career, Noel has averaged 8.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg and he become a quality bench player.
2014 – Pick was sent to 76ers as part of Jrue Holiday trade
That 2013 draft night trade cost the Pelicans two first rounders. Noel in 2013 and in 2014, 76ers originally drafted Elfrid Payton, but he was traded immediately to the Magic for the rights to Dario Saric. Saric was a key component of the Sixers’ trade for Jimmy Butler last season.
2015 – Pick dealt to Rockets for Omir Asik
In July 2014, Asik was dealt to the Pelicans in a three way trade that netted the Rockets a first round pick. Asik started 79 games that season, averaging 7.3 ppg, 9.8 rpg and providing efficient defense next to Anthony Davis as a key role player helping lead the Pelicans back to the playoffs. That performance, earned him a 5-year, $60 million extension in the 2015 offseason.
Asik would play just 83 more games with New Orleans (64 in 2016 and 19 in 2017) as injuries plagued his career. At this time, he is considered “retired” for medical reasons.
The pick the Pelicans traded to the Rockets was #18 and was used by the Rockets to draft Sam Dekker. Dekker has already played for 4 different teams in his short career, starting only 8 games, averaging 5.5 ppg as a bench player.
2016 – Drafted Buddy Hield. traded him to Kings for Demarcus Cousins
When the Pelicans drafted Buddy Hield it seemed like they finally struck gold, having their own draft pick for the first time since 2013 and their first actual rookie on the roster since Davis in 2012.
Hield last just 57 games before being the centerpiece in the Demarcus Cousins trade in February 2017. Hield averaged 8.6 ppg in his short season with the Pelicans. In 2018-19 with the Kings, Hield scored 20.7 ppg.
Meanwhile, Demarcus Cousins played just 65 total games, as he suffered a season ending Achilles injury in late 2018, missing the Pelicans playoff run.
2017 – Pick was part of the Demarcus Cousins trade
As part of that 2016 trade deadline move for Cousins, the Pelicans also parted with their 2017 first round pick. Kings picked 10th and drafted Zack Collins. They traded him on draft night to the Blazers for #15 and #20. Kings drafted Justin Jackson at 15 and Harry Giles at 20.
2018 – Traded first round pick for Nikola Mirotic
Mirotic was acquired by New Orleans from Chicago in February, he played 30 games and averaged 14.6 ppg, 8.2 rpg and was a big part of the Pelicans success in making the playoffs and winning their first round series. Mirotic stepped up when Cousins was injured.
It’s probably 99.9% likely that the Pelicans keep the pick and draft Zion Williamson. The big question will be how the Pelicans build a team around him and what kind of success they can have in the postseason.