- Zion Williamson put on a show in his first NBA preseason game on Monday.
- Williamson finished with 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists in 28 minutes, throwing down three jaw-dropping dunks in the process.
- While the New Orleans Pelicans have tried to calm the hype around Williamson, the NBA’s most anticipated prospect in years, it seems Williamson is indeed going to electrify crowds this season.
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It’s been months since basketball fans have seen Zion Williamson on the court, and he did not disappoint in his NBA debut on Monday.
In his first NBA preseason game, Williamson went for 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists in 28 minutes as the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Atlanta Hawks, 133-109.
Williamson opened the game by scoring the Pelicans’ first five points, first on a hanging, and-one basket, then on a thunderous, driving dunk.
After the game, Williamson said of his jam: “This isn’t high school or college anymore, you gotta go up strong, so I went up strong and was able to finish.”
Williamson wasn’t done there, however. He flushed home two more dunks, the first off of beautiful ball movement in transition.
Later, he showed off his acrobatics, going up and around a defender for a scoop layup.
The NBA world is already giddy for Williamson.
Zion driving toward the rim is already one of the most exciting plays in the NBA. Feels like he’s gonna smash the rim every single time.
— Kevin O’Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) October 7, 2019
Zion is putting on a dunk contest less than 5 minutes into his first preseason game
— Leigh Ellis (@LeighEllis) October 7, 2019
Zion Williamson plays basketball with caps lock on
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) October 7, 2019
The basketball fan in me would have loved to see Zion as a Hawk. But him with the Pelicans has the potential to be so much fun. Him anywhere has the potential to be so much fun
— Chris Herring (@Herring_NBA) October 7, 2019
The Pelicans have shied away from hyping up Williamson too much. Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin has called Jrue Holiday the leader of the team, so as not to put too much pressure on Williamson. Head coach Alvin Gentry said Williamson should not be compared to highly touted prospects of the past, like LeBron James.
“They shouldn’t do that [comparing],” Gentry said (via ESPN’s Malika Andrews). “We are not doing that. We are comparing Zion to Zion. We want Zion to be the best Zion Williamson that he can be. Not anybody else. We want him to be the best basketball player he can become using his name and no comparison.”
He added: “I know that it’s inevitable that that’s going to be the case, but we are not drinking that Kool-Aid.”
However, with Williamson already wowing crowds and drawing huge cheers in his first preseason game, it’s likely that the hype will follow the No. 1 pick.