"Look, this is not somebody who's supposed to be the savior of this franchise. That's not what this is," Griffin told reporters, as relayed by ESPN. "This is a 19-year-old kid who's going to spend the year learning how to play winning NBA basketball."
Still, the selection of Williamson is expected to mark a new era for the Pelicans, who recently traded Anthony Davis, their last No. 1 pick, to the Los Angeles Lakers.
James is a 16-year vet, who arguably ranks as the greatest of all time. The three-time NBA champion has also developed and demonstrated leadership qualities as his career's progressed, traits that Griffin warned not to instantly expect from Williamson.
Instead, the Pelicans executive said veteran guard Jrue Holiday is still the team's leader for the foreseeable future. When Williamson is ready to take over, Griffin said he'll be prepared to make the transition as seamless as possible.
"Zion is going to be part of learning how to win at a really high level," Griffin said. "And at some point if there's a time the baton gets passed, in terms of who's expected to carry us to win games, it will. That's not now.
"This is a 19-year-old kid, so we're going to take time with this. ... And so, let Zion be that kid. Don't write this like he's here to save this franchise. He's not. Here's here to join this family and we're here to raise each other."