Pelicans Land No. 1 Pick in 2019 NBA Draft

15 May

Ahead of this year's NBA draft lottery, the New Orleans Pelicans held a contest for a season-ticket holder to submit a lucky charm to wish the team success.

The winner, Connie Halphen, gave Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin a 56-year-old wooden angel.

It turned out to be exactly what the Pelicans needed. 

New Orleans leaped up from the seventh spot to the top of this year's draft Tuesday night, earning the right to take Zion Williamson in next month's NBA draft. The Pelicans had just a 6 percent chance to win the lottery.

"Connie had a good-luck charm, and it happened to be an angel," Griffin said. "It was fitting."

New Orleans winning the lottery capped a wild night that saw three teams -- the Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers -- leap far up the order, throwing chaos into one of the most anticipated drafts in recent memory.

The first shock was when the Lakers were revealed to have jumped up from the 11th spot -- a moment that drew gasps from the crowd inside the Chicago Hilton ballroom. A similar reaction occurred when the Washington Wizards were revealed to have the ninth pick -- meaning the Grizzlies and Pelicans had jumped up.

"I wasn't good enough at math to realize when the Washington Wizards came up ninth," Griffin said with a smile. "It's an incredible blessing for our organization."

The next piece of drama came when the fifth selection was waiting to be unveiled. After a moment, NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum revealed that the Cleveland Cavaliers would have the fifth pick -- meaning the New York Knicks, who had the worst record last season, were in the top four.

"I just sat back and hoped it was going to be No. 1," said Patrick Ewing, the Knicks' most recent No. 1 pick, 34 years ago, and who was representing the team Tuesday.

It wasn't to be, though, as the Lakers would get the fourth pick and the Knicks the third.

The winner would come down to the Grizzlies or Pelicans -- two teams that had tied, along with the Dallas Mavericks, for the seventh-best odds.

The Pelicans got the benefit of the pingpong balls bouncing their way last month to receive the seventh lottery spot in a tiebreaker process. They then got them to bounce the right way again Tuesday in winning the chance to select Williamson, the consensus top prospect.


* The email will not be published on the website.