Should Pelicans Have Drafted Ja Morant Over Zion Williamson?

New Orleans Pelicans, Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, NBA Draft
NBA Analysis Network

The New Orleans Pelicans have gotten off to another sluggish start in the 2021-22 NBA season. They are now 0-3 as Willie Green is still searching for his first victory as head coach. Part of the reason the team is struggling is that they are without All-Star Zion Williamson.

Williamson is recovering from an offseason procedure on his foot. He will be re-evaluated soon, but we likely won’t see him for at least another week or so on the court.

Injuries have plagued Williamson throughout his NBA career thus far. This is the second time in three seasons that he is not with the team at the start of things because of an injury sidelining him. He has appeared in only 85 games, which is frustrating for the team.

When he is on the court, he is one of the most dominant players in the league. He destroys opponents in the paint with his combination of size and athleticism, finishing way above the rim despite being one of the heaviest players in the league.

Williamson was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft out of Duke. The second overall pick was made by the Memphis Grizzlies and they picked Murray State point guard, Ja Morant. Now, there are people asking, should the Pelicans have picked Morant over Williamson?

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There is some recency bias in that question. While Williamson remains sidelined, Morant has been playing some great basketball for the Grizzlies. He most recently scored 40 points in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers, but he missed a free throw at the end which would have tied the game and likely sent them to overtime.

It was something Morant was disappointed by but should not disregard how well he played the entire game before that. Had he not scored as much as he did and handed out 10 assists, the Memphis Grizzlies never would have been close enough to even tie the game.

Morant’s excellent play thus far this season is a carryover from how well he performed in his first playoff appearance against the Utah Jazz. Memphis may have been eliminated in five games, but Morant was a star. He averaged 30.2 points, 8.2 assists, and 3.4 rebounds in 40.6 minutes per game.

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Ja Morant has found more success than Williamson thus far in their careers and his ability to stay healthy and ready to play is a positive. But, it is hard to say at the start of their third year in the NBA that the Pelicans made a mistake selecting Williamson over Morant

Down the road, the answer may change. The two will have plenty of matchups down the road and possibly in the postseason eventually where the question can be answered. But, for now, it is safe to say the New Orleans Pelicans made the right decision selecting Zion Williamson with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.