Pelicans meeting with multiple top-tier prospects at draft combine

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

CHICAGO – New Orleans has not publicly or officially committed to choosing Zion Williamson with the first pick June 20, but you can’t find a single mock draft that predicts otherwise. As a result, the remaining projected top-10 picks don’t expect to be selected by the Pelicans next month, but also aren’t ruling out the possibility of coming to the Crescent City somehow, some way.

For example, Texas Tech 6-foot-6 wing Jarrett Culver – listed fifth on NBA.com’s consensus mock draft – sat down for an interview with New Orleans’ front office Wednesday, acknowledging the truism that strange things can occur on draft night, including trades.

“They’ve got Zion probably (with the No. 1 pick), and that’s probably how it’s going to turn out,” Culver said of the Pelicans, while speaking Thursday to the media at the draft combine. “But you never know what could happen. Anything can happen. You just have to be ready when your (name) is called.”

As Culver alluded, there are countless scenarios that could play out near the top of the draft. When asked about the possibility of being Williamson’s teammate in the NBA, Culver responded, “That would be unbelievable. Playing with a great guy like that, you always want to have great talent around you, and that’s what the NBA is filled with, great talent. Me being able to play beside him, that would be awesome.”

Currently No. 8 overall on the NBA.com consensus list, 6-8 wing Cam Reddish has already enjoyed that experience, suiting up alongside Williamson for one season at Duke. The 19-year-old smiled Thursday when the idea was brought up of being his teammate in the professional ranks.

“It would be fun,” Reddish said. “Obviously we were happy we did it this year, but it would be a ton of fun to do it again next season. If it happens, hey, let’s do it.”

As has been customary in recent years at the draft combine, many of the top-tier draft prospects do not conduct interviews with media (even fewer participate in basketball activity), but they do meet privately with NBA teams. Williamson was not part of Thursday’s media interviews, but Reddish spoke about the 18-year-old forward’s traits off the court, including how well-liked he was among the Blue Devils.

“I love Zion,” Reddish said. “He’s a phenomenal guy to be around, just all laughs and giggles. He wants to have a good time. He’s super, super humble, even though he shouldn’t be. But he’s a real humble dude to be around. I enjoyed his presence.”

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