Zion Williamson has yet to make it to a hundred games in the NBA. It will not do so even at the end of this campaign. Difficult to digest, both because of its current impact on the track and because of the echo of its name. His popularity in high school did not remain among friends, nor was he enough with his city or state: it was worldwide. In the era of the viral, his mates had everything to extend beyond any border. Almost everyone knows Zion, or is familiar with it, and for a long time. He raised the highest expectations in the NBA since the arrival of LeBron. And the King is not compared to anyone. “I thought LeBron was unique, but I think he’s the next to come,” Steve Kerr went on to say. A sporting phenomenon, but also an economic or social one: his college injury, accompanied by a broken Nike shoe, caused more than $ 1.1 billion in losses for the brand. A potentially ideal prototype for the best league in the world, which boasts basketball talent, but also organizational culture, image or expansive capacity. There were many expectations, and also their corresponding doubts. For now, the first ones are confirmed.
Stan Van Gundy, a la Django, has unchained him. 32.9 minutes on average on the track have said goodbye to any hint of minute restriction. One that the power forward had to accept under Alvin Gentry, but surely not by his own will; Alvin, like anyone else, would enjoy his gliding, contest dunks and, above all, his super-productive ability (Zion is one of those who, without notifying anyone, fill in his locker with numbers). The beasts, from time to time, also need pampering. And granting them is usually a good decision, because they are on your side. In his sophomore season, he battles everyone and everything in New Orleans, his favorite place to play basketball ahead of New York (or was it the other way around?). 26.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists in the service of a project that is not exploding as expected, but that in Zion has a lighthouse from which to depart (and dock).
Records as food
With Williamson, the statistical portals work piecemeal. In any match of his, a brand can be blown up. He already warned in his debut. His four triples against San Antonio Spurs, with a maddened Smoothie King Center, were proof that the idyll has its link with the rational, with its exuberant athletic abilities and, hurrying in this dimension, with its sixth sense when it comes to understanding. with the direction of the ball; but also with the irrational. Since then, he has tried a maximum of three triples in the same game. Only twice, in fact, and, moreover, with one hit among the six. This season, he averages 0.5 attempts with 32.3% accuracy; but all that does not matter. That record, the one for the most triples scored in a debut, belonged to him, like so many others.
Michael Jordan, Shaquiller O’Neal, Elgin Baylor, Mutombo, LeBron … they’ve all shared headlines with Zion at one time or another. Or Zion with them, with all due historical respect. Sometimes to stand next to; in others, very close and, already in many, above. With the Spurs as an executioner, again, Williamson managed to reach his 2000 point as a professional, with only 20 years and after 79 games. At the height of Baylor and Rick Barry, below Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson or Kareem; but being, since 1985, with Jordan (73), the one who has needed the fewest meetings to reach this figure. And it is the how much, but also the how. Because Zion is scoring a lot, but like never before. His success rate (61.6%) has practically become his main hallmark. Nobody knows how, but he always ends up finding a way to get to a resolution near the rim, with impulses and rectifications that put Newton into question. His average points, when combined with this percentage, results in something never seen throughout the history of the competition.: Until now, no player had managed to score more than 15 points per game with such success, according to data from StatMuse. He records 26.8. According to the same portal, Zion could afford to miss more than 200 shots and, even so, it would still be above 50%.
There is more. With his selection for this year’s All Star, he was placed among the four youngest players in history to achieve such a decoration (20 years and 244 days). Ahead, Magic Johnson (20 years and 173 days), LeBron James (20 years and 52 days) and Kobe Bryant (19 years and 169 days). There is no step without a brand: it feeds on them and they never end. This season, he has also become, alongside Allen Iverson and behind Jordan, the fastest player to reach his 20th game with 30 points or more. Narrowing the sights on the history of the Pelicans, everything multiplies, of course. This course, for example, has become the only member in its history to string together six 30-point games with more than 70% accuracy. And so, one after the other. There is no end.
Zion Williamson leads the NBA by averaging 19.7 points per game in the paint.
The last player to average more than that was Shaq in 2001-02 pic.twitter.com/QuSEcyeYtR
– Kirk Goldsberry (@kirkgoldsberry) April 10, 2021
“Along with Doncic, Williamson is the future of the NBA”
Comparisons always come. Difficult to avoid in multiple fields of life, in sport they seem inevitable. And to Zion they have also reached him, making merits for it. Against the Clippers, he signed his twentieth game of the season with more than 20 points and 70% (72%), only within the reach of Artis Gilmore … and Shaquille O’Neal, his most recurring reflection. Despite the idiosyncrasy of their game (of both), the similarities exist; although, as always, they end up being unfair to some of the two parties, in one sense or another. For the moment, however, Williamson deals well with the tremendously authoritative analogy, and the voices that add to it do not cease. Shaq’s included: “I wouldn’t say it’s a disgrace. He’s making good numbers, he’s playing hard, he’s playing well. He could possibly be better,” the Lakers legend recently assured, among others.
The opinion of the most authoritative word, but one among many, that cannot ignore the constant data that brings them closer. To give another example. As of mid-April, Zion averaged 19.7 points in the paint, something that, since the 2001-02 season, has not been achieved. Whose work? There is no answer. “He is an unusual force and obviously a great player. We will have to see what we can do to stop him next time, although he is doing it to everyone. It is a great challenge for defenders and referees. It collides with everything wherever it goes. Has the kind of strength of Shaquille O’Neal with skills of a point guard“Rick Carlisle described to him after succumbing to his characteristics. A comparison that seems eternal between a player who already is and another who seeks to be.” Along with Doncic, Williamson is clearly the future of the NBA and should win several MVP awards in the course of his career, as long as he can stay healthy, “says Mike Schmitz, a journalist for ESPN, in a very generalized feeling. The future of the” can “will decide. Meanwhile, the records will continue to shake.