The stage is set for the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery in Chicago. (Reuters)
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CHICAGO – The New Orleans Pelicans won the draft lottery on Tuesday and will pick first in the 2019 NBA Draft on June 20.
The draw gives the Pelicans — who had only a 6 percent chance of winning — the inside track to select Duke freshman forward Zion Williamson at No. 1. The franchise had the top pick in 2012, when it selected Anthony Davis, who last season requested a trade.
Results of the revamped lottery were two days before prospects take part in the draft combine on the city’s south side.
The No. 2 pick went to the Memphis Grizzlies, followed in order by the New York Knicks, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Phoenix Suns.
Under rewritten lottery rules designed to prevent tanking, the Knicks, Cavaliers and Suns held equal 14 percent odds to select No. 1 by virtue of having the three worst regular-season records. Bygone lottery guidelines would have granted New York a 25 per cent chance as a result of an NBA-worst 17-65 record in 2018-19.
The Knicks were assured of being awarded no worse than the fifth overall pick, and they wound up at No. 3.
The Chicago Bulls will pick seventh, followed in order by the Atlanta Hawks, the Washington Wizards, Atlanta, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Charlotte Hornets, the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics.
The Bulls (22-60 last season) finished with the fourth-worst record in the league and had a 12.5 per cent chance to win the lottery and draft first overall, which last happened for Chicago in 2008. That year the Bulls had a 1.8 per cent chance to draft first, won the lottery and selected future MVP Derrick Rose.
The Knicks have drafted first only twice since 1965, including selecting Patrick Ewing — who represented the Knicks in Chicago on Tuesday — out of Georgetown in a top 10 that included Chris Mullin (seventh, Golden State Warriors), Detlef Schrempf (eighth, Dallas Mavericks) and Charles Oakley (ninth, Cleveland Cavaliers).
The Suns had the No. 1 pick in 2018 and selected Deandre Ayton.
Williamson, the consensus college player of the year as a freshman last season, is the favourite to be the No. 1 pick.
Blue Devils teammate RJ Barrett, Murray State guard Ja Morant, North Carolina point guard Coby White, Virginia forward De’Andre Hunter, Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver and Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland are among those projected to be drafted in the lottery. (Reuters)