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N.B.A. Lottery Winners: Pelicans Get No. 1 Draft Pick, and the Right to Select Zion Williamson

Nuccio Dinuzzo/Associated Press

After months of breathless anticipation — and a race to the bottom of the standings by several teams — the New Orleans Pelicans shocked everyone by winning the N.B.A. lottery on Tuesday night and earning the No. 1 pick in a draft that will include one of the most acclaimed prospects in league history: Duke’s Zion Williamson.

For the Pelicans to win the lottery, the three teams with the worst records this season — the Knicks (17-65), the Cleveland Cavaliers (19-63) and the Phoenix Suns (19-63) — had to lose again. They each came into the night with a 14 percent chance of getting the top pick in a revamped system designed to reduce the value of finishing at the very bottom.