Is Zion Williamson ready to ‘shock some people’ upon NBA’s return?
There were whispers throughout the deliberations concerning a potential restart that the NBA would do all it could to ensure that Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans were part of any return-to-play plan.
Whether that supposed plot was true or simply speculative, it sounds like the Pelicans rookie is eager to make his mark once the NBA returns to the court.
A Pelicans insider recently relayed to Tim Bontemps and Andrew Lopez of ESPN that Williamson is “going to shock some people” when the league resumes play on July 30.
The Pelicans (28-36 when the season was put on hold) will be 3.5 games out of the Western Conference’s final postseason spot with only an abbreviated eight-game conclusion to the regular season to make up ground.
Despite the difficult task, one Eastern Conference team executive believes the league is holding out hope that Williamson and the Pelicans can figure out a way to qualify for the playoffs.
“[Williamson is] a guy that drives eyeballs and attention,” he said. “[The NBA] would love to have a Michael Jordan versus the ’86 Celtics moment in the first round. If they could get their ideal world, that’s what they would want.”
Williamson returned to action on Jan. 22 after missing the Pelicans’ first 45 games due to the injury, and he ended up playing in 19 games before the NBA went on an indefinite hiatus amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In those appearances, the rookie impressed by averaging 23.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists while posting a 58.9%/46.2%/64.5% shooting line.
Despite a then-league-wide shutdown of team facilities, Williamson was cleared by the NBA to practice at the Pelicans complex last month. It sounds like he has taken advantage of the opportunity.
“Zion has been diligent about taking care of himself,” Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said. “He’s in a good space physically and mentally.”
The NBA obviously would welcome the opportunity to showcase Williamson in the postseason. Despite having his rookie campaign unfortunately short-circuited by an untimely injury, Williamson is viewed as a generational talent. What’s more, it appears he believes it’s already his time to shine.