Zion Williamson will almost certainly be selected by the Pelicans with the No. 1 pick in Thursday's NBA Draft. But his new team is about to get a full makeover.

New Orleans sent its first-ever No.1 overall pick, Anthony Davis, to the Lakers for a bevy of assets, including Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and three first-round picks.

The Pelicans now have one of the most talented young cores in the NBA, and Williamson, who turns 19 in July, will be at center stage in the franchise's renaissance.

Quite a few aspects of New Orleans' play will be different in 2019-20. Let's take a look.

How Zion Williamson will fit with the Pelicans and in the NBA:


The Pelicans will field one of the more intriguing defensive units in the NBA this upcoming season, as it has acquired plenty of length and athleticism. The starting unit, however, may have to face some unique challenges given it's personnel, so let's break it down.

Jrue Holiday has made an NBA All-Defensive team in each of the last two seasons, so he's unquestionably one of the more talented defensive guards in the NBA. The 6-4 floor general can defend both guard positions with ease and likely will see plenty of minutes with 6-6 Lonzo Ball, who is one of the NBA's most underrated off-ball defenders. And then there's Josh Hart, who ranked third in defensive real plus-minus among all shooting guards in 2018-19. Only Jimmy Butler and Danny Green edged him out in this category.

Needless to say, New Orleans has a solid rotation of defensive guards lined up.

Williamson will likely play in a forward spot alongside the lanky, 6-9 Ingram. Ingram's 7-3 wingspan next to Williamson's 285-pound frame and 45-inch vertical could be a nightmare for opposing teams. Both are quick on their feet, as well, so this bodes well for shot-blocking and switchability on the perimeter and in the paint. These two can definitely provide some versatility on the defensive end.

Julius Randle has declined a $9 million player option and, while he'd be an undersized center at 6-9, the experiment could be worth a shot. Jahlil Okafor might come into the picture, but given the lack of depth in the middle, Williamson could fill in as a small-ball 5 from time to time. He has a natural ability to protect the rim.

All in all, the front line of this Pelicans team doesn't look as if it'll fold easily on this end.


One interesting topic of discussion is what position Williamson should play in the NBA.

Though he was a power forward at Duke, Williamson is "only" 6-7. But we've seen other undersized forwards thrive in an era of positionless basketball — most notably Draymond Green, who also is 6-7. Green can push the pace and serve as a primary distributor, something Williamson has yet to do but has plenty of room to grow.

Williamson made it clear at times that he can handle the ball and is an able and willing passer. But by no means will he be asked to run the offense. Can a high-flying Williamson develop a traditional back-to-the-basket game against considerably taller players? That question needs to be answered.

He certainly has the speed and spring to jell with the Pelicans' new roster. At the very least, he'll be a lethal option on the break. If he develops his jump shot for pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop scenarios, even better. New Orleans' newest attraction simply isn't the kind of player you can just draw up a play for on the block right now, but he is someone with the natural talent to rack up hustle points.

The Pelicans also still have the No. 4 pick in their back pocket. It appears as if they'd ultimately like to trade it for a veteran piece. New Orleans needs a shooter, as its current group won't allow for much floor spacing.

This much we know: New Orleans will be an exciting team everyone will be watching in 2019-20.