Williamson back, Pelicans ready
After a four-and-a-half-month pandemic-forced hiatus, the 2019-20 NBA season continues – and so does the much-interrupted rookie campaign of Zion Williamson.
Entering the season, the New Orleans Pelicans’ prized power forward never got to show off the raw abilities that made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, as a torn meniscus suffered in preseason required surgery and put him on the shelf for three months.
When he finally made his regular-season professional debut in January, the Pels’ were at 17-27 with their playoff hopes on the ropes. But Williamson’s presence provided a jolt to the flagging squad and the team’s fortunes improved, going on an 11-9 run and looking like a cohesive unit before the season was halted on March 11.
Williamson was still rounding into shape and getting acclimated to a new system and teammates (and they to him) at that point but the 19-game snapshot that fans were left with was tantalizing: 23.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists. More importantly, he displayed the rare combination of skills – speed, power, on-court vision and a playmaking ability more befitting a point guard – that make him somewhat of a freak at power forward.
And with the Pelicans vying for the No. 8 postseason seed in the West, they’ll need all of that and more in the regular season’s final six weeks.
Williamson and the Pelicans resume the season Thursday, July 30, when they take on the Utah Jazz at HP Field House in Orlando, Fla., in a game airing on TNT.
Full name: Zion Lateef Williamson
Birth date: July 6, 2000
Birthplace: Salisbury, N.C. (raised in Spartanburg, S.C.)
Height/weight: 6 feet 6 inches/284 pounds
Teams: New Orleans Pelicans (2019-present)
Draft: Selected in the first round (first overall) by the Pelicans in 2019
Position: Power forward
Honors and achievements: College Player of the Year (2019); Consensus First-Team All American (2019); ACC Player of the Year (2019); ACC Rookie of the Year (2019); ACC Tournament MVP (2019); McDonald’s All-American (2018); South Carolina Mr. Basketball (2018); Jordan Brand Classic (2018); Nike Hoop Summit (2018)