Zion Williamson is unconcerned by the pressure of potentially following the likes of LeBron James as the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.
Former Duke sensation Williamson is expected to go to the Pelicans as the first overall selection on Thursday. The 18-year-old would join a roll call that includes Los Angeles Lakers star James and former greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Tim Duncan.
But Williamson is keen to make his mark without worrying about those who have gone before.
“Those are big shoes to fill, but I’m not looking to fill those,” he told Good Morning America. “I’m just looking to be the best Zion I could be.”
Williamson claims he did not expect to emerge as the clear candidate for the top pick and is just eager to get started.
“I just want to hoop,” he said.
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) June 18, 2019
“It’s crazy, honestly, you know, I never saw myself as being a top-three, top-four pick, and for people to think that I could go [at number] one, it means a lot to me. It’s showing that my hard work is paying off, but I just want to get drafted period,” he said. “I don’t play basketball for the money; it was the last thing I thought of when I was a little kid.
“When I was a little kid, I looked at my mom, stepdad, said, ‘I want to be an NBA player’, just because I love to play the game of basketball like 24/7.”
It has been reported the Pelicans could look to take the Grizzlies’ second pick in order to pair Williamson with former Duke teammate RJ Barrett on Thursday.
New Orleans is understood to have received the fourth pick from the Lakers in a blockbuster trade that sent Anthony Davis to L.A.