*a 5 min read*
Upon his late start in the league, rookie sensation Zion Williamson has made a tremendous impact in just his first season. Following a dominant freshman year with the Duke Blue Devils Zion made his way to the NBA and was drafted number 1 overall by the New Orleans Pelicans.
Zion Williamson, an all-around forward who can pretty much do everything on the court, will be a severe problem for defences in the years to come. He can distribute the ball can score from anywhere on the floor, and he can shoot. And my goodness, is he a force in the paint. When going up against him, you better give it everything you’ve got or else the result will not be in your favour.
Coming into the league, Zion has had all the spotlight on him because of his miraculous College and High School highlights. Dominating in both High school and College, the question now was, will he do the same thing in the NBA? So far, he has been living up to the hype.
Zion has been a force to be reckoned with. Averaging 23.6 points, 2.2 assist and 6.8 rebounds in just 19 games played this season. Surrounded by other young talents such as Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, Zion fits right in and has much opportunity to grow in the NBA. Upon entering the league, Zion weighed at around 280 pounds. Critics believed that he would be too slow in the NBA. Many thought that his body wasn’t NBA ready and that he needed to cut down, but since playing his first game in the league, Zion has been silencing the critics.
In his first NBA game, Zion put up 22 points and seven rebounds on 8-11 shooting from the field. Not bad for his first official game. Throughout the game, Zion put up 17 straight points late, keeping his team alive against the San Antonio Spurs. The Pelicans might have won the game if he remained in the game, but there is no denying that Zion’s confidence is out of this world. The average gets butterflies during their first game, but Zion is different.
During the season’s progression, Zion would go on to lead the league in points per touch. He leads the league in second-chance points, and he is ranked second behind Giannis in points in the paint. Very impressive, considering he is just a rookie. The Pelicans have also increased net efficiency this season each time that Zion has stepped on the floor. His work ethic and hustle are through the roof, something the Pelicans need to capture the eighth seed in the tough western conference.
Currently battling for the eighth seed in the western conference, Zion and the Pelicans still have a legitimate shot at making the NBA playoffs. Whether or not we’ll see them in the playoffs will be hard to call, but who wouldn’t love to Lebron and Zion match up in the first round (as the Lakers are the first seed in the West). Since the games started in the NBA bubble, the Pelicans are sitting at a record of 1-2, and Zion is fresh off a 23 point performance.
As we all know, no matter how good you are at something, there is always room for improvement. In the case of Zion Williamson, he is an all-around player who can do everything, but his craft isn’t perfect. Defensively, Zion is a defensive stopper in the paint, but on the perimeter, he is slow when it comes to playing on-ball defense. His jump shot is a little inconsistent as well, but as time goes on, these are things that will get better with repetition and further minutes.
Can Zion win rookie of the year? Does he have a legitimate shot? Yes is the answer to both of those questions. Zion has made a tremendous impact since playing his first game, but we cannot take away from what Ja Morant has done this season as-well. This rookie of the year battle is one for the ages and maybe the best one we’ve seen in a while. With Zion being such a promising young talent, he will soon be the MVP of this league.