Opinion: With Pelicans getting No. 1 pick, NBA draft lottery works out as designed


SportsPulse: In stunning fashion, the Pelicans land the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft and likely Zion Williamson. USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt breaks down how the new lottery system devalued tanking for at least one year

The NBA’s new reformed draft lottery process worked as designed.

At least for the 2019 draft.

With just a 6% chance of winning the lottery, the New Orleans Pelicans hit the jackpot and won the No. 1 pick, giving new executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin the opportunity to select Duke’s Zion Williamson.

No need for Griffin and the front office to overthink this one.

That wasn’t the only stunner. Memphis, which with the eighth-best lottery odds had a 19% chance of moving into the top three and a 6.3% chance to moving to No. 2, got the second pick, and the Los Angeles Lakers, who had just a 9% chance of a top-four pick, ended up fourth.

The three teams with the best odds – 14% each for the New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers – didn’t get the No. 1 or No. 2 picks. The Knicks got the third pick, and the Cavaliers and Suns fell to No. 5 and No. 6, respectively.

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