Zion Williamson has made a crucial impact in last night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, allowing his New Orleans Pelicans to win it, 138-117. The No.1 pick from this year’s draft has set a new season-high, dropping 31 points on the Blazers’ defense, and once again proving his unreal talent.
Zion was 10-for-17 from the field with 9 boards, five assists, and one steal, in 28 minutes of the floor. He also missed just three of his 14 free throws and had a game-high.
“I expect to make an impact, but I don’t expect to do nothing like this,” he said.
The super-athletic power forward is still adjusting to professional basketball, and yet, his numbers are excellent. After the match with the Blazers, he wanted to emphasize the influence of his teammates who are trying to support him in every possible way, giving him the freedom to be creative.
“I just kind of look to come in, just kind of fit in, just not try to mess up, but my teammates and coaches are always pushing me, like be outside the box.”
After a knee injury that forced him to sit most of the season, the teenager played 9 games so far. He is averaging 19.8 points, 7.5 boards, with 57.4% from the field, and surprisingly 44.4% from behind the arc.
His Pelicans are 5-4 in the games he played, and they are much better in the last two months than at the start of the campaign. If they played like this from the beginning, their playoff appearance wouldn’t be a problem at all.
However, the reality is much different, and Alvin Gentry’s side is currently sitting at 23 wins and 31 losses, 4.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies who are holding that 8th spot in the standings.
Meanwhile, besides the Pelicans, the Trail Blazers and the Spurs are also in the hunt, which means that thrill and drama are guaranteed in this situation. If Zion continues to deliver performances as he did so far, New Orleans will have a massive edge over other teams.
However, he is just a teenager, and it wouldn’t be so strange to see him making some mistakes or losing games. And he too is aware of that.
“At the end of the day, I’m 19. I have a lot of room for growing. I will mess up. I’m not perfect — I’m just gonna learn from them,” he said
This statement is, in fact, a reflection of his maturity, and understanding of the entire process of his development. The expectations from him are enormous, and that might be a problem sometimes for a young person.
Throughout NBA history, we witnessed many great prospects disappearing without a trace after encountering the league machinery. We can’t say that many had talent like Zion has, but for sure, there were some extraordinary guys who just couldn’t handle the mental pressure.
The Pelicans have a rough and very important stretch ahead of them. At first, they face the Oklahoma City Thunder at home this Thursday. After that, comes a huge clash in Portland against the Trail Blazers, and they need to find a way to beat Lillard and the guys.
Following this matchup, the Pelicans travel to San Francisco to meet the Warriors, and in LA where they play against the no.1 team in the conference, the Lakers.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.