Zion Williamson eyeing potential playoff berth, not ROY award
Zion Williamson has put the NBA on notice that he deserves being heralded as the league’s latest generational talent, but the New Orleans Pelicans superstar is keeping his eye on the prize from a team perspective while eschewing a desire for individual awards and accolades.
The 19-year-old phenom recently sat down for an interview with Rachel Nichols of ESPN. During the chat, Williamson laid out his goals for a rookie season in which his debut was delayed by injury, remains one with potential promise for the Pelicans.
“Honestly, I’m just tryna get a playoff spot for my team. If I win [ROY], it’s nice, but if not, it’s fine.”— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 20, 2020
Zion says he’s worried about the playoffs and not the ROY race. (via @Rachel__Nichols) pic.twitter.com/nWBlP0tS8W
“Honestly, I’m just tryna get a playoff spot for my team,” Williamson told Nichols. “If I win [ROY], it’s nice, but if not, it’s fine.”
The Pelicans are not in the best of positions for Williamson’s quest for a postseason berth. At 23-32, New Orleans is currently slotted 11th in the Western Conference and sits 5.5 games back of the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies.
Williamson is now 10 games into to his rookie season, and he’s averaging an impressive 22.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game. A deeper dive into his stats showcases the rarified air he’s entered when it comes to NBA history.
Zion Williamson is now over 200 points (and counting) through 10 career games…— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 14, 2020
Over the last 30 seasons, the only former No. 1 picks to score 200 points within their first 10 career games are Hall of Famers Shaquille O'Neal (238 in 1992-93) and Allen Iverson (224 in 1996-97). pic.twitter.com/kDPrJec0nu
Despite Williamson putting up incredible numbers — and impressing his fellow NBA players along the way — the Pelicans have posted a pedestrian 6-4 record since he made his long-awaited debut after sitting out the team’s first 45 games due to a torn meniscus.
The Pelicans obviously face a daunting task in climbing back into playoff contention in the West. While Williamson also faces long odds of usurping Memphis Grizzlies phenom Ja Maront as Rookie of the Year favorite, leading the Pelicans into the playoffs will be a far more difficult goal to achieve.