New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson is powering a potential dark horse

Zion Williamson is powering the New Orleans Pelicans

The New Orleans Pelicans‘ season is not off to the hottest start. In fact, before Sunday’s game against the Sacramento Kings, the Pelicans had dropped their last four games.

Although there have been some early struggles, the New Orleans Pelicans should still be optimistic about their season for a few reasons. First, they have a talented team, Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Steven Adams, and a few young players that have gotten some extra minutes due to safety protocols and injury.

Maybe they are not the best fit as far as styles and skill set, but talented nonetheless. Second, they have had five games that have been decided by five points or less, two in which they have lost and one of the losses was in OT. It is early enough in the season that those two losses that could have been wins would put them into playoff contention and have a winning record.

The final reason for optimism is Zion and his aggressive, yet efficient approach.

Zion in Sunday’s win against the Kings was a prime example of what we can expect from him for the rest of the season. If you watch that game, he did not have a “hot hand,” he played “his” game. To summarize, Zion scored 31points on 13-15 shooting from the field, 5-5 from the free-throw line, grabbed six boards, and dished out two assists.

Every single field goal for Williamson came in the paint it seemed like. There were two or three instances where we took defenders off the dribble from the top of the 3-point line and got right to the rim. Everything else was Zion attacking the rim off the catch and giving defenders one quick move, and then effort points.

Effort points to me come from fastbreak points after forcing a turnover or my personal favorite, offensive rebounds. Zion had a few against the Kings that ended in put backs for himself and is averaging just below three offensive boards a game.

Zion is currently averaging 23 points, eight rebounds, and two assists per game. Maintaining a 57 percent field goal percentage, while continuing to be aggressive is the most impressive part of his game to me. He is so physically imposing that all you can do as a defender is foul him or hope he misses the shot.

Against the Kings, Zion went 5-5 from the free-throw line and only missed two out of 15 shots which equates to roughly 87 percent from the field. In other words, the Kings tried to foul him, did not work. They tried to play him tough and hope for a missed shot, did not work.

An aggressive Zion is a lot to handle, an efficient and aggressive Zion is borderline unstoppable. If you put that together and add his effort on the glass and his incredible second jump ability, watch out. The only thing left would be a jump shot, and we have seen what Pelican’s assistant coach Fred Vinson can do to get a player’s jump shot on track. If he can fix Lonzo Ball’s form and make him a capable shooter, I have to believe he can improve Williamson’s as well.

The Pelicans currently sit at 5-7 and are the 12th seed in the West, only one game back of the 8th seed. Look for the Pelicans to turn their record on itself if Zion can keep up what he is giving New Orleans on the court.