It’s been a long time coming, but the past week has been what NBA fans have been looking forward to for what seems like years: the Zion Williamson era in the NBA has arrived. The big man out of Duke has now played two NBA games in the past 3 days after missing the first few months of the season with a torn meniscus he suffered in the Summer of 2019. His debut on Wednesday night had ‘de-ja-vu’ type vibes similar to the hype surrounding LeBron James’ first career game in 2003.
Williamson was slotted into the starting five January 22nd against the San Antonio Spurs. He played in short bursts of a few minutes through the first three quarters, looking a little hesitant while playing what seemed to be much more conservative than his days in college. That all changed once he was subbed in early in the fourth quarter. Zion would end up going on a tear of 17-straight points, including sinking four-consecutive three pointers to give the Pelicans the lead with six minutes left in the game. All the excitement and promise that was anticipated the last several months had been delivered in Williamson’s captivating performance.
Fast forward to Friday night’s matchup against the Nuggets, where Zion showcased other versatile parts of his game. He was on the receiving end of a thunderous alley-oop to score the Pelicans first points, bringing the ferocity and explosiveness that has won the hearts of basketball fans everywhere. The knee injury didn’t seem to affect his defensive presence either, as he rose what seemed like two feet above the rim to reject a ball that landed in the fourth row of the stands behind the Pelicans bench. Williamson finished his second game with 15 points and 7 rebounds as New Orleans fell to Denver.
As we progress into the second half of the season, the Pelicans look to spark a run at the playoffs. They’ll need to turn things around quick, as they are 4.5 games back of the 8th seed with a 17-29 record. Williamson will get more integrated into this New Orleans offense over the next few weeks, so look for New Orleans to start clicking moving forward. The overwhelming mismatches he can cause will be a problem for opposing defenses, so this could be your last chance to buy low on Zion before he changes the game as we know it.