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Pelicans shootaround update presented by HUB International: Three top-10 picks on floor in Chicago

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CHICAGO – Zion Williamson was born after all of Chicago’s six NBA championships were clinched, but the Duke product is enough of a student of basketball history to be aware of a few details about Michael Jordan’s 1990s reign atop the league. When Williamson was asked after Wednesday’s New Orleans shootaround if it is “special” for him to play in the United Center, the 19-year-old noted, “This building is obviously special. (Jordan) won six rings here – well, not all of them were won here (three took place in the old Chicago Stadium) – but he got six banners. It’s an honor to be able to play on this court.”

More from Pelicans shootaround in Illinois:

Asked if Wednesday’s preseason game might be a preview of the NBA dunk contest at All-Star weekend – Bulls guard Zach LaVine is a two-time champion and Chicago is hosting All-Star 2020 – Williamson smiled and said, “I knew that question was coming… Not really. It’s a basketball game. If we dunk, it’s whatever, but I don’t think we’re going to be doing anything crazy.” …

Noting the large contingent of media members at shootaround in Chicago, a repeat of what took place for Williamson in Atlanta two days earlier, one reporter wondered if Williamson was enjoying the process of being swarmed by media. Williamson smiled and said, “It’s smooth. I try to have fun with it. Just be myself.” …

Williamson on whether he’s had to take any measures to “stay grounded” (a reporter’s words, not his) amid all of the hype and attention he’s receiving: “Not at all. Just be myself. I don’t change who I am. There was a time I didn’t have all this. I was the same person (then), so I’m not going to change.” …

Wednesday’s game will feature three top-10 draft picks from June, including New Orleans center Jaxson Hayes and Chicago guard Coby White, who was selected one spot before Hayes at No. 7 overall. Williamson noted that he will be ready for White to push the pace and play fast, as was the case when Duke faced White’s North Carolina team last season in the ACC. …

Among the many bright spots Monday for New Orleans was the late-game performances of the guard tandem of Nickeil Alexander-Walker (12 points in 15 minutes) and Frank Jackson (nine points in 16 minutes). They both sat for two-plus quarters, but responded very well to getting their number called during the third period. Alexander-Walker, picked 17th in the June draft, was making his unofficial NBA debut.

“That’s the league,” Jackson said, alluding to the Pelicans being so deep. “There are so many guys who can play. You have to be ready at any second. It was a great first game for Nickeil. It was fun being out there with him and the rest of the guys.”

EltasZone Sportswriters, Sports Analysts, Opinion columnists, editorials and op-eds. Analysis from The Zone Team
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