Zion Williamson had a sensational freshman season at Duke, winning the NCAA's Wooden Award for best overall player. He isn't even 19 years old yet, but his life just drastically changed. The New Orleans Pelicans made Williamson the number one pick in this year's NBA Draft – and now he's going to get paid.
Williamson is projected to make $20 million over his first two years in the league. However, NBA first-round picks have team options on the final two years of their deals. Unless Williamson flames out spectacularly quickly, the Pelicans are going to pick up those additional two seasons.
Thanks to the NBA salary cap rising to $109 million this upcoming season, that means Williamson will make about $45 million over his first four years in the league. The rookie pay scale adjusts annually based on the total salary cap.
And that's just on the court. Williamson is going to be highly recruited by the major apparel companies. Nike is the favorite – Williamson wore Nikes in college and famously burst through one of their shoes during a game – but Adidas and Reebok will likely drive up the price of Williamson's endorsement. It wouldn't be surprising to see Williamson get a shoe deal in the neighborhood of $100 million.
That's potentially $145 million Williamson can make before he's in his mid-twenties.
The Pelicans moved up in the draft lottery last month, snagging the number one pick with just a six percent chance to do so. They traded disgruntled superstar Anthony Davis just a few days ago, officially welcoming the era of Zion. The Pelicans also received the No. 4 pick in the draft, though they traded that pick to the Atlanta Hawks for Jaxson Hayes, the No. 8 pick.
The NBA Draft is always an exciting time. Teams across the league have high hopes, looking forward to better times ahead. And for Williamson, those better times are going to include plenty of dollar signs.