Pelicans’ Zion Williamson appears as superstar

NBA Analytics Network

The New Orleans Pelicans got a hard-fought victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night, winning 119-118. Zion Williamson, having a career night, propelled them to that victory and put the NBA on notice.

Williamson scored a new career high of 43 points, including the last 14 of the game for New Orleans. The Pelicans had a simple game plan when it came time according to CJ McCollum, who revealed what it was after the game.

“Take the ball to Z and get the f- out of the way”, McCollum said jokingly. While there was probably more to it, that’s a good plan of attack. Williamson had his way all night in Minnesota as they had no answers to slow him down.

That dominant stretch at the end is actually a franchise record for most consecutive points by a player to end a game with. Williamson shared what led to that kind of performance after the game.

“I watched a lot of old school players and I tried to figure out their mindset and all their mindsets were the same. People remember winners,” Williamson said. “So when the time comes for me to finish the basketball game, I want people to say he was a winner. And CJ looked at me and said, ‘If you want to be great, now is the time to step up. ‘ And that was all the motivation I needed.”

LATEST NBA NEWS: Zion Williamson & New Orleans Pelicans Updates

The No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft shot 14-of-21 from the field and was bruised all night. Timberwolves point guard D’Angelo Russell was critical of his physical play after the game, calling him out for playing football while everyone else was playing basketball while the officials were still blowing in his favor. On the night, Williamson attempted 19 free throws, 14 of which were.

McCollum has expressed how different it is to see Williamson up close as a teammate before. After Wednesday’s performance, he was again left in awe by his star teammate.

“Like I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it,” McCollum said. “I don’t know if we’re going to see someone with that power, that power, that speed with the ability to still jump east and west and straight up. He can jump and finish east and west, which is heavy and makes it difficult for the defense to guard him.

LATEST NBA NEWS: Zion Williamson & New Orleans Pelicans Updates

Williamson’s combination of size, strength and agility is rare. Listed at 6’6″ and 284 pounds, he looks like a player anyone would make in a video game, as opponents have yet to figure out a way to effectively slow him down.

Even head coach Willie Green, who has played with, against and some exceptional players in his day, is sometimes amazed at what Williamson can accomplish on the basketball court.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Green. “His touch as he drives onto the track with two, three men hanging on to him and yet he somehow manages to find the glass. And then he also does a great job finding his teammates. It is a luxury for us to have a player like Z and he was dominant tonight.”

LATEST NBA NEWS: Zion Williamson & New Orleans Pelicans Updates

The Pelicans have been one of the pleasant surprises in the NBA this season. People expected them to improve with Williamson back in the group, but to rise to the top of the Western Conference as they are tied for number one with the Denver Nuggets is very impressive. If Williamson continues to play at this level, nothing will stop them from staying there.

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