Zion Williamson

NBA rumors: Zion Williamson to miss several weeks with knee injury

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USATSI

NBA rumors: Zion Williamson to miss several weeks with knee injury

One of the NBA’s brightest young stars will not be on the court for the first regular-season game of his NBA career.

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson will miss a “period of weeks” due to a right knee injury, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports citing league sources.

Williamson was the No. 1 overall draft pick back in June, and played in four preseason games, averaging 23.3 points and 6.5 rebounds. The Pelicans announced Williamson would miss the final preseason game on Thursday.

The Warriors are now likely to miss Williamson when they visit New Orleans in 10 days for an early-season matchup with the upstart Pelicans. The Warriors’ dramatically depleted frontcourt should have an easier time inside without the hulking presence of Zion in the paint.

[RELATED: Ask Kerith: How do Draymond, Looney's roles impact Warriors?]

Depending on how long Williamson ends up being out, this could have playoff implications for both the Warriors and Kings, who each are on the fringes of a loaded Western Conference with more than a handful of title contenders.

Buddy Hield and the Kings won't get their first shot at Hield's former employer until Jan. 2020, so expect to see Williamson back in uniform barring another negative update.

Pelicans see Zion Williamson as 'extremely athletic' Draymond Green

Pelicans see Zion Williamson as 'extremely athletic' Draymond Green

Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin knows what Draymond Green is capable of all too well, having been the general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers for three of their four NBA Finals encounters against the Warriors.

Griffin was hired by New Orleans at the conclusion of the 2018-19 regular-season, and as his biggest move thus far, he selected Duke's Zion Williamson with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Williamson was widely expected to be the top selection, having been a constant presence on internet highlight reels for several years now. Chances are, you've probably seen a clip of him doing some kind of windmill, 360-dunk, or jumping out from the paint to the perimeter to block a 3-pointer.

He's an athletic freak, plain and simple -- at 6-foot-7, 285 lbs.

Green won't be doing those same athletic feats on a nightly basis, but nonetheless, Griffin believes there are plenty of similarities between Williamson and Golden State's power forward, and not just physical ones.

"The thing about Zion, though, that excites us is, it's not that he's going to carry you offensively, it's that he's going to be able to facilitate offense," Griffin told Jeff Duncan of The Athletic. "If you look at him as an extremely athletic Draymond Green type who may be able to facilitate all things for others and get out in transition and make plays ... that's exciting. And because that's what he natively really does, we're not going to ask him to carry an undue burden (offensively). We're going to ask him to be Zion, to figure out how that player interfaces with the rest of the pieces we have and how it can be equative to winning."

Green has the fourth-highest individual winning percentage in NBA history behind Kawhi Leonard, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, so if the Pelicans want to turn Williamson into a winning player, they couldn't do much better in terms of someone to model him after.

[RELATED: Iguodala explains why Draymond is adored by his teammates]

The fact that New Orleans believes Williamson can become a Draymond-like facilitator on top of all of his Adonis-like physical traits undoubtedly played a role in their decision to make him the No. 1 overall pick. Of course, the fact that the Pelicans are envisioning him playing like Draymond makes Green slipping all the way to the No. 35 overall pick in his draft that much tougher to explain.

NBA Draft 2019: Biggest winners, losers from two trade-filled rounds

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AP

NBA Draft 2019: Biggest winners, losers from two trade-filled rounds

The 2019 NBA Draft has come and gone, and the league has 60 new players.

As expected, Duke star Zion Williamson went first overall to the New Orleans Pelicans. The Memphis Grizzlies then took Murray State guard Ja Morant second overall, before the New York Knicks rounded out the top-three with the selection of Duke's RJ Barrett.

Then it all went off the rails. 

The draft featured a grand total of 17 trades -- five more than last year -- so it was easy to get lost in all of the player movement. With that in mind, here are the three biggest winners and losers from the 2019 NBA Draft:

Winners

Pelicans

Getting Williamson was a foregone conclusion for weeks, but it's what the Pelicans did outside of the first overall selection that makes them the draft's biggest winner. It's not very often you can trade away a generational talent and become a better overall team in the process, but new general manager David Griffin might have accomplished that. After some wheeling and dealing, the Pelicans were able to turn Anthony Davis into one heck of a haul:

They used the Nos. 8 and 17 picks on Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, respectively, and added Brazilian guard Marcos Lousada Silva with the No. 35 pick in the second round. That's four talented prospects added to an already-young core, and in getting rid of Solomon Hill's contract, they gave themselves considerable cap flexibility moving forward.

Grizzlies

Perhaps it's no surprise that the teams with the first two picks in the draft are the two biggest winners. In getting Morant, the Grizzlies found their point guard of the future after trading Mike Conley Jr. to the Utah Jazz this past week.

Morant's athleticism jumps off the tape, but his passing ability is nearly as impressive. Then, Memphis traded up with the Thunder to grab Gonzaga forward Brandon Clarke with the No. 21 overall pick. Clarke was a critical member of Gonzaga's run to the Elite Eight this past year, and already has an NBA body.

In joining Jaren Jackson Jr. -- Memphis' 2018 first-round pick -- Morant and Clarke give the Grizzlies an exciting young core that should expedite their rebuild.

Hawks

Much like the Pelicans and Grizzlies, the Hawks have done a tremendous job utilizing the draft to turn their franchise around. After adding the likes of Trae Young, Kevin Huerter and John Collins over the last two years,

Atlanta continued its talent overhaul with the selections of De'Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish with the Nos. 4 and 10 overall picks, respectively, Thursday night. Hunter is an ideal fit for the modern NBA, particularly due to his ability to play both forward spots and defend four positions. Reddish, meanwhile, was expected to go in the top-five not too long ago, and can shoot it as well as any prospect in the draft.

The Hawks have been dwelling in the basement for the last couple seasons, but they'll be soaring before long.

Losers

Suns

What the heck is going on in Phoenix? More of the same, it appears. Before the draft even started, the Suns traded away scoring guard T.J. Warren and the No. 32 overall pick to the Pacers in an attempt to clear salary cap space. They then traded the No. 6 overall pick to the Timberwolves -- which Minnesota used to select Jarrett Culver -- in exchange for forward Dario Saric and the No. 11 overall pick. Then, with the No. 11 pick, they made quite possibly the most surprising pick of the entire draft, selecting North Carolina's Cameron Johnson, who many expected to fall out of the first round entirely.

And then, the Suns traded their 2020 first-round pick (via Milwaukee) to the Celtics for the 2019 No. 24 overall pick and Aron Baynes, whose salary erases a significant portion of the cap space they created through the Warren trade. Phoenix did use the No. 24 pick on Virginia's Ty Jerome to finally land the point guard they've been so desperately searching for, but in general, the Suns didn't give much reason to believe they're in for a big turnaround next season.

Warriors

With so much of their current roster potentially in flux, it was imperative that the Warriors found multiple players in the draft that could contribute immediately. While the future isn't pre-written, it doesn't appear they did. Earlier in the day, the Warriors acquired the No. 41 overall pick from the Hawks for a 2023 second-round pick and cash considerations, giving them three selections altogether.

With their first-round pick (No. 28 overall) Golden State selected Michigan guard Jordan Poole, who turned 20 years old the day prior. A gifted shooter with an above-average handle is a nice get that late in the first round, but Poole might need more seasoning, and the Dubs' backcourt is currently lacking in able bodies.

Then, the Warriors traded up to the No. 39 overall pick to select center Alen Smailagic, who won't turn 19 until August. Smailagic played for the Santa Cruz Warriors last season, so Golden State is familiar with him and clearly wanted to keep him in its developmental system. But, more so than Poole, Smailagic is still very raw, and highly unlikely to be able to contribute at the NBA level next season, and the Dubs may have to wait even longer than that.

While Villanova forward Eric Paschall (No. 41 overall pick) does fit in with Golden State's current contending window, their other selections didn't make much sense in that respect.

[RELATED: Front office reputation riding on this draft]

Bol Bol

It seems as if every year, one of the prospects invited to sit in the green room at the draft doesn't get their name called until long after expected, and as if that isn't punishment enough, they have to sit there for hours with a camera positioned on their obviously disappointed face. That was Oregon's Bol Bol this year, and it was hard to see coming.

Although the 7-foot-2 phenom missed a large portion of his only college season with a broken foot, his skill level is off the charts for someone of that size, so naturally he was expected to be drafted much earlier than No. 44 overall. After being passed up by every team in the league, Bol was traded from Miami to Denver, where the Nuggets just went through a 'redshirt' season with 2018 first-round pick Michael Porter Jr.

It surely wasn't the draft night Bol was expecting or hoping for, but in the long run, it might turn out to be a blessing in disguise.