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David Griffin: Pelicans are Jrue Holiday’s team, not Zion Williamson’s

The New Orleans Pelicans selected Zion Williamson, the unquestioned future of the organization, with the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft on Thursday night. According to Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin, that’s all well and good, but the present belongs to Jrue Holiday.

The Pelicans, thanks to winning the NBA Draft Lottery and the opportunity to select Williamson, are well positioned to reset as opposed to rebuild in the wake of trading former franchise centerpiece Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers. In an effort to pump the brakes a bit on Williamson’s ascension, Griffin made it clear that Holiday is the unquestioned leader of the Pelicans.

“This is Jrue Holiday‘s team,” Griffin said, per ESPN’s Malika Andrews. “Zion is going to be learning how to win at a really high level. At some point, if there is a time that the baton gets passed in terms of who is expected to carry us to win games, it will. That is not now.”

Griffin continued: “Let Zion be that kid. Don’t write this like he is here to save this franchise. He is not. He is here to join this family.”

Griffin obviously is attempting to lighten the load on the 18-year-old Williamson as he learns the ropes of playing in the NBA, much less leading a team. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that approach, though Williamson is arguably the most hyped, highly touted top pick since LeBron James was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2003 NBA Draft.

There will undoubtedly be enormous pressure on Williamson to prove he deserved to be a No. 1 overall pick. In the interim, however, Griffin saying the onus is on Holiday — an accomplished, established and respected star player — to lead the way at this point is a savvy bit of spin. That said, odds are Griffin knows full well the Pelicans are already Williamson’s team in spirit, if not in an “official” capacity.