It’s the moment all NBA Fans have been waiting for since the start of the season. The future of not just the New Orleans Pelicans, but the entire league, and the start of a new chapter for the rookie, Zion Williamson.
To begin the game, Zion had a beautiful touch pass that led to Brandon Ingram dunk at the nine-minute mark. This set the crowd on fire as it was Zion’s first assist of his career. He entered the game at the start of the second quarter, following four minutes of playing time in the first. Zion was expected to play 3-6 minute stretches in the game. His first points came off of a miss, which he snatched out of the air and put it back up to get on the board. Zion came in and out during them 3rd and 4th quarter, showing sparks of what’s to come next.
Once Zion entered the game in the 4th, the magic started. Zion scored 17 straight points in the 4th, going 4/4 from beyond the arc, and had Smoothie King Arena chanting “M-V-P” and “We Want Zion” when Williamson checked out. With 8:30 to go in the 4th, Zion showed his strength ability, jumping over DeMar DeRozan, grabbing Lonzo’s bad pass in midair and easily putting it in for a score. In Zion’s scoring spree, the Pelicans’ fans caught a glimpse of what they are going to be seeing in the future.
Zion finished the game with 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists, tying the team-high in points with Brandon Ingram. After the game, coach Alvin Gentry said that Zion was telling him, “Coach, I can win the game for this team. Leave me in.” But the medical staff was telling Gentry that Williamson needed to be taken out. Zion was the first player in NBA history to go 4/4 or better from the 3 point line in his NBA debut.
Would the game have a different outcome if Zion played a little longer in the fourth? Yes, it probably would have. But, he might have been sorer in practice, limiting his playing time on Friday against the Nuggets. The Pelicans have played safe with Zion’s injury, not wanting him to re-injure that same knee that has been aggravating him the whole year. New Orleans needs to limit him for a week or two if they want to move forward this year because they are still in contention for a playoff spot. Coach Gentry said that Zion is ̈feeling great today, but will wait for after the team ́s shootaround to provide the amount of time he is expected to play against Denver. The Pelicans certainly have a lot to look forward to, they still have about half the season left with Zion and things are looking bright. But it’s not just all Zion. The Pelicans have an all-star in Brandon Ingram, who is having his best season yet, averaging 25.5 points per game, on 47% shooting from the field, and 39.4% from the three point line. They also have Josh Hart, Jrue Holiday, and Lonzo Ball who are all on the rise this year. If the Pelicans make the playoffs, nobody should be counting them out just yet as its just the beginning of something very big in NOLA.
Top picture- Photo by David Grunfeld, NOLA.COM