Metairie, La. — Zion Williamson, a generational basketball talent, is now a member of the New Orleans Pelicans.
The excitement around what he will bring to this team is very well justified. The 6’7″, 285 pound forward has the potential to become one of the best to ever play for the Pelicans– and even bigger yet– to be the best in the entire league. After Thursday’s NBA Draft, Pelicans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, David Griffin, spent plenty of time talking-up Williamson’s talent and his character, emphasizing the “human element” that only added to his appeal as the first overall pick. But he was also was quick to point-out his long-term vision for the team, which doesn’t involve putting the weight of the franchise on a teenager– no matter how good he may be.
“This is not somebody who’s supposed to be the savior of this franchise,” Griffin said about Williamson and his immediate role with the team. “That’s not what this is. This is a 19-year-old kid who’s going to spend this year learning how to play winning NBA basketball. Everything that we’re doing from now until the end of our time here as a franchise is going to be about long-term sustainable success. This is Jrue Holiday’s team. When we made the trade that we made– or are working to complete rather– with a certain player that used to be here with Jrue, we were very cognizant of the fact that this is Jrue Holiday’s team. From the moment that I got here on the ground, the very first conversation I had with [Holiday], I challenged him and he has responded to it every step along the way. Zion is going to be part of learning how to win at a really high level and at some point if there’s a time that the baton gets passed in terms of who’s expected to carry us to win games, it will. That’s not now. This is a 19-year-old kid so we’re going to take time with this. It’s not going to be something where I want people to just expect this is instantaneous.”
It’s an idea Pelicans fans have long waited for– building a team through the draft, even if it means being patient while they develop young talent so that they become a perennial championship contender.