Zion Williamson
(Gerald Herbert/Associated Press)

Heading into the fourth quarter of the Pelicans matchup, I didn’t have a whole lot to say about Zion Williamson. He had five points and an assist if I remember correctly, and was playing in “short bursts” as Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry called it. I wasn’t going to hold it against Williamson if that’s how he finished his night, the man is recovering from a knee surgery and still testing his limits, I understand why he would’ve taken the rather timid approach for the majority of the game. When you’re coming off of a big injury like that, you have to get used to not only the speed of the game, but the pace at which your body is moving at again. We could chalk this game up as a learning experience, and get ready to ease Williamson into the game plan more and more as time went on.

I was about ready to turn the game off with roughly nine minutes to go, because outside of Williamson I frankly didn’t give a damn about the game, and then that big motherfucker nailed a three. Of course, my curiosity peaked because it started to look like the No.1 overall pick was starting to break out of his shell, and boy did he break out of his fucking shell. Following that impressive three pointer, Williamson managed to pour in 17 points in just over three minutes, 17 POINTS IN THREE MINUTES JUST THINK ABOUT THAT, before being pulled out of the game for good with just about five minutes left. 

That definitely pissed off the majority of America, how were you going to pull Williamson just as things were getting really good? I understand his health is a top priority so I get it. But had he stayed in, a four point loss to the Spurs could have potentially ended with a victory last night with the way Zion was playing in the fourth quarter.

Williamson finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists shooting 8-11 from the field, and a perfect 4-4 from three. I was in utter shock and disbelief at what I had just watched, for three minutes Williamson decided to play like his bum knee didn’t even exist and frankly probably second to Kobe Bryant’s 60-point retirement finale, that was one of the most exciting displays I’ve ever seen in the NBA. Every basketball fan naturally roots for Williamson, and it was just one of the most encouraging and exciting things to watch considering how much action he’s had to miss in his rookie season, I’m just genuinely happy for him that he was able to begin his NBA career the way he did. Performances like this also just give you that gut feeling that guys like him are going to be really, really special in this league, like Michael Jordan or LeBron James type special.

I’m going to cut him some slack for his five turnovers because after being away from a game environment for so long, there’s bound to be some rust in certain areas of your game. I will say however that expectations for Williamson will only heavily increase from here on out. All of the Stephen A. Smiths and Colin Cowherds are going to dominate the airwaves with their opinions of you on a daily basis, Pelicans ticket sales are probably about to go through the roof, and anybody who even mildly follows the NBA will be constantly tuning into to see what Williamson can do on a nightly basis. If he continues to turn in performances like the one he just had consistently, Ja Morant’s runaway campaign for Rookie of the Year will get very complicated very quickly.

What I’m interested to see, is not only how Williamson manages those expectations, but what it could mean for the Pelicans as a team. They’re not completely eliminated from the playoffs yet, and with a Pelicans team at full strength with Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball, there’s no telling what this Pelicans team can accomplish not only in 2020, but beyond. There’s going to be bumps and bruises in his journey, but at 19 years old we know Zion Williamson has the opportunity to be an amazing basketball player for a very long time. Welcome to the NBA Zion Williamson, we’re mighty glad to have you!