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Pelicans take Zion Williamson with No. 1 pick in NBA draft

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Duke’s Zion Williamson, right, poses for photographs with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after being selected by the New Orleans Pelicans as the first pick during the NBA basketball draft today in New York.

NEW YORK >> The New Orleans Pelicans selected Zion Williamson with the No. 1 pick today, going with the Duke force who is considered one of the most exciting prospects in years.

The 6-foot-7, 285-pounder compiled a career worth of highlights into just one season, becoming the third freshman to be voted player of the year by The Associated Press.

His assault on the rims made him a favorite of college basketball fans, but his game is more than just dunks. Williamson averaged 22.6 points and 8.9 rebounds while shooting 68% from the field.

Wearing a white suit, he hugged members of his family and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after his name was called first at Barclays Center.

Williamson will step into an open position in New Orleans, which recently agreed to trade All-Star Anthony Davis, the last freshman to win the AP award, to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Memphis Grizzlies also quickly addressed a positional need by taking Murray State’s Ja Morant with the No. 2 pick. The Grizzlies agreed to trade Mike Conley, their longtime point guard, to Utah a day earlier.

They got a good replacement in Morant, who led Division I with 10 assists per game as a sophomore while averaging 24.5 points.

RJ Barrett then made it two Duke freshmen within the top-three picks when the New York Knicks took the guard who actually edged out Williamson to lead the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring. Knicks fans hoped they would get Williamson after finishing with the worst record in the league but seemed happy to end up with Barrett, loudly cheering and chanting “RJ! RJ!” when the pick was announced.

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