The ping pong balls control a lot more than you think, especially when it comes to endorsements.
Last night was the NBA Lottery and if you missed it, the New Orleans Pelicans got the #1 pick and will most certainly get Zion Williamson. While there have been certain #1 picks in the past, last night's broadcast explicitly told Zion he was going to New Orleans and even showed him in the crowd several times.
There are rumors that when he found out it was New Orleans, Zion was upset because he really wanted to go to the New York Knicks. Who could blame him? There are several reasons why any player would want to play for the Knicks and the biggest is definitely money-related.
Playing at the Mecca and in that market provides players with an unmatched amount of exposure. National attention is increased, the fans care more, and endorsement deals are more lucrative.
Darren Rovell tweeted last night that the difference in value for Zion on the Lakers or Knicks vs. the Grizzlies or Pelicans was more than $100 million. The first top four picks match up the two most valuable franchises in the NBA with the two least. Yes, Zion will still get plenty of endorsements before he even plays a minute in the NBA. But the overall value and quantity of those deals will be much less than if he were a Knick or a Laker.
There is evidence of this with a current New Orleans Pelican in Anthony Davis. He has arguably been one of the best players in the entire league the past couple of years, but he is often overlooked due to his smaller market and team performance. Maybe adding another generational talent to the lineup can get the Pelicans over the hump.
Last night's lottery didn't just alter Zion Williamson's value. It did not hurt the Knicks or the Lakers because those two teams will always be at the forefront of attention and money. It did, however, greatly benefit the New Orleans Pelicans. Their ticket sales will be through the roof and excitement over the team will reach new heights with Zion in the fold.
New Orleans isn't hiding their excitement either as they posted a video of their front office celebrating as if they won the championship when they got the first pick. And rightfully so considering how much this one player will help this team both on the court and off the court.
Something as simple as the draft order can have a tremendous impact on teams both performance-wise and financially. Another example would be what happened with the Cleveland Cavaliers last night. They were tied for the best odds at landing Zion Williamson but ended up dropping to pick number four. Suddenly, they went from possibly getting a transcendent talent that would greatly improve their immediate future to likely struggling again next year and picking high up in the draft again.
Let us know your thoughts on the lottery last night. Are you happy with where Zion is going? We know the Pelicans certainly are.
Check out some pictures below showing the reactions to the results.
Written by: James Campbell
James Campbell is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan with his B.A. in Sport Management. Throughout his time at Michigan, he has worked with Detroit City FC, MiLife Sport & Social Club, and USA Hockey. - @Jimmy10Campbell