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2020-21 Pelicans Season in Review: Zion Williamson

  • Age 20
  • Experience Two seasons (two with Pelicans)
  • Games Played/Games Started 61/61

Put him on the low block, watch him dominate. Put him at the top of the key with the ball in his hands, watch “Point Zion” flourish. Through the first two seasons of his NBA career, Williamson has shown incomparable versatility, the ability to transform into whatever unique offensive force New Orleans needs him to be. He often played close to the basket in his debut season and shot 58 percent from the field, then filled a greater playmaking role in 2020-21 – and shot 61 percent from the field.

“One thing about Zion that’s remarkable, and as a fan of this team, would excite me a great deal,” said Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin, “is when he came back from his initial knee injury (as a rookie), he was asked to play almost exclusively in the post, and he was historically efficient as a post-up player, doing what he enjoyed the least.

“Then when Stan (Van Gundy) leaned into Point Zion, you saw that Zion was historically efficient in that role. So this is a player who is capable of almost anything on a basketball court. He’s literally one of one. There is nobody who has his combination of assets.”

    Zion Williamson Key Stats from 2020-21 NBA Season

  • PTS Per Game 27.0
  • REB Per Game 7.2
  • AST Per Game 3.7
  • FG % 61.1

Those traits were one reason Williamson emerged as an All-Star lock in March, averaging 28.8 points and 7.3 rebounds during the first half of the season. After appearing in only 24 games as a rookie, he was very durable in Year 2, playing in 34 of the first 35 games (his only DNP was due to an inconclusive COVID test on Jan. 13). Williamson was pleased to be able to expand his game, moving beyond the boundaries of what some observers believed was effectiveness based on athleticism and strength.

“I was happy that the world got to see a little bit of my ballhandling, my playmaking,” he said on May 17. “I was very happy about that, because (there were) people who thought I didn’t have any skills. I was very happy to showcase that.”

Williamson was forced to sit out New Orleans’ final six games due to a fractured left hand, but prior to that frustrating ending to 2020-21, he already made a case to be included among the NBA’s premier players.
“He’s a 20-year-old player who is an All-Star,” Griffin said. “When he was healthy and we were leaning into Point Zion, I think you’re seeing a player who is already a top-10 player in this league. What we need is everyone (among teammates around him) to be top-10 in their ability to impact winning. That’s the next step in the evolution for us.”

Zion Williamson | By The Numbers

  • 1

    Player (Williamson) who’s averaged 25-plus points on 60 percent shooting from the field in a single season over the last three decades. The most recent player to pair those statistical minimums was Kevin McHale for Boston in 1986-87. McHale averaged 26.1 points and shot 60.4 percent from the floor.

  • 24

    Williamson games of five-plus assists this season. New Orleans went 16-8 in those instances. He dished out exactly five dimes three times as a rookie (Pelicans went 2-1), but never more than that.

  • 69.8

    Williamson free-throw percentage, a jump from 64.0 as a rookie. Williamson credited the improvement to time he spent working on the shot with Pelicans assistant coach Fred Vinson and Williamson’s stepfather, Lee Anderson.

Zion Williamson | Most Notable Games from 2020-21 NBA Season

  • #1, April 9, New Orleans 101, Philadelphia 94



    Williamson’s 37-15-8 line was the most impressive of his career in terms of all-around performance, with the 15 rebounds setting a career high (and eight assists tying another). New Orleans launched a three-game winning streak by knocking off the Eastern Conference’s eventual No. 1 seed.

  • #2, Feb. 16, New Orleans 144, Memphis 113

    Williamson remains unbeaten in his four career games played vs. the Grizzlies. The Pelicans only needed him to log 28 minutes in FedEx Forum, while rolling to a huge second-half lead. Facing former AAU teammate Ja Morant, Williamson posted 31 points (on 13/16 shooting), seven rebounds and six assists.

  • #3, Feb. 3, New Orleans 123, Phoenix 101

    The Pelicans obliterated the West’s eventual No. 2 seed during Williamson’s 32 minutes, outscoring the Suns by a whopping 37 points (marking the best plus-minus of his brief NBA career). His 28-point game was highlighted by 12/14 accuracy from the field; he added seven boards and six assists.

Sourced from Pelicans

EltasZone Sportswriters, Sports Analysts, Opinion columnists, editorials and op-eds. Analysis from The Zone Team
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