I was so frustrated when I found out Zion Williamson won’t make his NBA Regular Season Debut due to a knee injury he suffered in pre-season. He led the Pelicans to a 3-0 record in the preseason and look well on his
way to winning Rookie of the Year. His chances of winning this season are very slight unless he manages to get the New Orleans Pelicans in the Playoffs over the player competing for that Rookie of the Year Award in Ja Morant who is establishing a culture in Memphis rapidly and taking that Franchise to heights in the future they never even saw in the Grit and Grind Era led by Conley,Allen,Randolph, and Gasol who are all now gone. Back to Zion Williamson because the Pelicans will have a few questions to answer over the next few seasons with Jrue Holiday becoming a free-agent at the age of 31 and Brandon Ingram due to for an extension this summer.
As of right now the Pelicans have been average pretty much since Zion Williamson got back in the lineup, I am completely shocked and at the same time marveled at how Zion Williamson has instantly revolved the offense around him a bit. Brandon Ingram was scoring 30 points consistently for a good stretch and carrying the Pelicans all-season practically but there is a positive since Brandon Ingram acknowledges who Zion Williamson is and can he become. So long Brandon Ingram understands he won’t be the franchise player of the Pelicans I don’t see why David Griffin should not re-sign Brandon Ingram and give him all the money he wants. So the question is how does New Orleans convince Zion Williamson to stay long-term in New Orleans? LeBron James lasted 7 years in Cleveland before bolting to Miami, Kevin Durant spent 9 years in OKC before taking his talents to Golden State to become a better all-around player and win championships.
The Pelicans have control of Zion Williamson an additional 3 seasons after this first one but what should Zion Williamson do if he isn’t an NBA Champion by the time he becomes free-agent? What will the Pelicans look like by then? Will they win a Title before then? I would not bank on it and a big reason is Alvin Gentry, this team has failed to become a good defense? They rank close to the bottom in Opponents Points per game and Points allowed per game, that won’t cut it if they have Championship aspirations. I recall hearing Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball would hold opposing backcourts to 40 percent shooting or below and that certainly has not been the case, Brandon Ingram is far from elite on defense and Zion Williamson is getting shredded to pieces defending pick and rolls. I kid you not Zion Williamson is a legitimate 6’6 and looked like Shaquille O’Neal out there versus the Mavericks recently, a game they lost in overtime. So how much better could the Pelicans be next season? Can they become contenders?
Going into next season assuming Anthony Davis re-signs with the Lakers and Klay Thompson and Curry are fully healthy for the Warriors, the Warriors,Clippers, and Lakers will be legitimate title contenders next season. I won’t say the Rockets because I have to see who they hire in place of Mike D’Antoni to coach Russ and Harden next season but the Pelicans won’t have an easy road next season. I haven’t mentioned the duos of Fox/Bagley and Luka/Porzingis who are poised to push for the Playoffs next season as well, so a Title for the Pelicans over the next 4-5 years seems far-fetched in my opinion. I do not know Zion Williamson’s future but one thing I do know is the kid is very likable, he is always smiling and seems very coach able but to become an all-time great he’ll have to disappoint some NBA fans and maybe that will mean leaving New Orleans in his quest for a Title.
We’ve seen the pressure rise for LeBron James in the past as he collected MVP’s,led the Cavaliers to the Finals by his 4th season,made a ton of All-Star games but because we hadn’t seen him hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy yet we never took him seriously. Zion Williamson will be a lock for the All-Star game barring injury over the next 3-4 years, I’ll go as far to say I could see him winning NBA MVP over the next 3-4 years before he becomes a free-agent but what I can’t see is him becoming a Champion over that span and it’s because the team has question marks and I don’t believe Alvin Gentry can coach this team to a Title. No disrespect to Alvin Gentry since he has anchored Playoff teams in the past such as Nash’s Phoenix Suns and of course Anthony Davis’s Pelicans but can he win a Championship with Zion Williamson’s Pelicans? Will Zion Williamson do with Alvin Gentry what Nash and Davis never did? Can’t see it.
Zion Williamson gets LeBron James’s comparisons and I get it, he has powerful dunks and is an absolute freak of nature on the court. He also has a high basketball IQ for a 19 year old kid and does not seem to have a huge ego, he was able to co-exist with Barrett and Reddish at Duke so he is not hard to play with. I’ve seen Zion Williamson make the extra pass to a cutter for a lay-up or dunk, I’ve seen him drive and kick the ball out to the perimeter to shooters, I’ve seen him give the ball off on fast breaks and let his teammates throw him lobs, the kid has an unselfish nature but the red flags are his defense and his weight? LeBron James has been able to sustain himself at the top due to the dedication he puts into his body, Wade and Bosh are out of the league already and Carmelo has been playing 3rd fiddle to Westbrook,George and CJ and Dame over the past few years. LeBron James is still at the top of the NBA and it has been 17 years since his Rookie season, will Zion Williamson be able to play at an elite level for 17 years? I sure hope he can but it’s not something I would gamble on happening.
I see Zion Williamson playing an an All-Star level over the next 10-11 years and then we might see a decline, I believe he can rack up Titles,MVP’s,All-Star selections, and maybe a few Dunk Contest Titles and become a Top 10-15 Player All-Time. I have really high expectations for the kid, we thought Dwight Howard would be the new Shaquille O’Neal of the NBA but Dwight Howard was a different kind of athlete and never the scorer Shaquille O’Neal was in his prime, Shaquille O’Neal was a man child putting up games with a surreal number of points and rebounds, that is what I see in Zion Williamson. I think he will average very high points and rebounds throughout his Career, I could see him averaging upwards of 5-6 assists per game depending on how he is used over the next decade but the kid is a scorer and rebounder period.
To conclude this article has been a bit about everything about Zion Williamson’s Career, I’ve heard him say he hopes to never lose the passion for the game and hoping to stay on one team long term but eventually Zion Williamson will have to become the bad guy. Zion Williamson could make the ultimate sacrifice and play out his whole Career in New Orleans, maybe he changes the landscape of the NBA and brings back the times when a Superstar plays out his whole Career with one team like Dirk Nowitzki,Kobe Bryant,and Tim Duncan did in the early 2000’s. LeBron James and Kevin Durant taught us sometimes you have to do what is best for you and your Career and block out the noise, sooner or later Zion Williamson will have to make similar decisions to LeBron James and Kevin Durant. What if David Griffin fails to build a team around Zion Williamson to a win a Championship? Watching New Orleans would be bad for the NBA, they drafted Anthony Davis and he bolted, the same can’t happen with Zion and hopefully it doesn’t. What are your thoughts? Will Zion leave New Orleans?