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New Orleans secures right to pick No. 1

CHICAGO (AP) – Zion Williamson has never been to New Orleans.

That may be changing very soon.

The Pelicans bucked seriously long odds Tuesday night, winning the NBA draft lottery and the right to have the first chance at selecting the former Duke star next month – and potentially pairing him with Anthony Davis, in what would immediately become one of the league’s most intriguing frontcourt duos.

“I don’t believe the universe makes mistakes,” said David Griffin, who is barely a month into his tenure as New Orleans’ executive vice president of basketball operations. “I just think we have something special going on.”

Griffin doesn’t play the lottery, unless the jackpot is one of those billion-dollar-type enormous ones.

Memphis will choose second, New York third and the Los Angeles Lakers will pick fourth. The Pelicans, Grizzlies and Lakers all moved up to get a top-four spot; New York, Phoenix and Cleveland had the best odds of winning the lottery at 14% each, and none of those clubs even got a top-two pick.

The lottery had a new format this year, one that the league hoped would even the playing field in a number of ways and didn’t make all-out tanking a more enticing option to teams looking to maximize their chance at securing the No. 1 pick.

The Knicks, Suns and Cavs didn’t have much interest in winning this season, with none winning more than 19 games. The ping-pong balls apparently weren’t interested in having them win the lottery, either.

Cleveland will pick fifth, followed by Phoenix, Chicago and Atlanta. Washington has the No. 9 pick, Atlanta goes again at 10 and Minnesota is at No. 11. Charlotte is next up, followed by Miami at 13 and Boston at 14. That pick was conveyed to the Celtics by Sacramento as part of an earlier trade.

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