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New Orleans Pelicans

Running diary of Zion Williamson's rookie season with the New Orleans Pelicans

With the NBA season returning, the Zion Williamson show once again takes centre stage as the rookie phenom continues what's been an exhilarating, show-stopping, head-turning, "drop everything and hop on League Pass right now" rookie season.

If it seems like something special happens each time he steps on the floor, well... it's because it does!

Williamson - recently named one of the cover athletes for NBA 2K21 - will look to lead the New Orleans Pelicans back into playoff contention during the eight 'seeding' games, and we've got you covered with a game-by-game rookie diary featuring the can't miss highlights, need-to-know stats and most memorable quotes.

Game 23: Efficient night, but another bubble loss

Zion's line: 24 PTS, 2 REBS, 2 AST, 83.3% FG in 22 minutes

The results: Sacramento Kings 140, New Orleans Pelicans 125

Zion was uber-efficient in the loss to the Kings. According to NBA Stats, Williamson touched the ball just 38 times and still finished with a team-high 24 points.

The rookie's impact on the stat sheet is being felt, but it hasn't translated to wins yet as the Pellies are now 2.0 games back of the ninth-placed Blazers. Hopes of a playoff berth are quickly fading.

Zion however is still giving fans highlight-reel plays. Check him out here connecting with Lonzo Ball on another alley-oop finish.

Game 22: He's baaaaack

Zion's line: 23 PTS, 7 REBS, 5 AST in 25 minutes

The result: New Orleans Pelicans 109, Memphis Grizzlies 99

Williamson got off to a rough start in the bubble, but he sure picked a good time to have a breakout game.

Led by his 23 points, seven rebounds and five assists, the Pelicans defeated the Grizzlies to keep their postseason dreams alive. New Orleans is now only two games behind Memphis for the No. 8 seed and 0.5 games behind the Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs in ninth and 10th place, respectively, for a play-in opportunity.

Zion was back to his Zion ways against the Grizzlies, bulldozing his way to the basket and skying for big-time dunks.

The Restart

As part of the NBA's restart, the Pelicans are one of six teams in contention for the Western Conference's No. 8 seed.

While Williamson looks to pick up where he left off in March, he was dealt a setback during the team's practice period, leaving the NBA's campus at Walt Disney World to tend to an urgent family matter.

Upon returning to Orlando, Zion was subject to a four-day quarantine period before returning to the practice floor.

Based on how he looked early in the restart period, he's got plenty of highlights in store.

Built for this 💪

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Game 19: Dunks, dunks and more dunks

Zion's line: 23 PTS, 7 REBS, 1 AST in 31 MINS

The result: New Orleans Pelicans 120, Minnesota Timberwolves 107

Today, on things Williamson makes look easy: a full-court alley oop...

...followed by a windmill.

Game 18: He did what?

Zion's line: 17 PTS, 6 REBS, 2 ASTS in 32 MINS

The result: New Orleans Pelicans 110, Miami Heat 104

Williamson's streak of 20-point games comes to an end, but the highlights keep on coming.

Game 17: The future is in good hands

Zion's line: 21 PTS, 6 REBS, 3 ASTS in 34 MINS

The result: Dallas Mavericks 127, New Orleans Pelicans 123

Luka Doncic and Williamson finished second and fourth, respectively, when we ranked who we believe will be the best players in the league in five years. This game was an example of why. Whereas Williamson went for 21 points and six rebounds, Doncic posted a 30-point, 17-rebound, 10-assist triple-double in an overtime win.

Game 16: A one-man wrecking crew

Zion's line: 25 PTS, 8 REBS, 3 ASTS in 32 MINS

The result: Minnesota Timberwolves 139, New Orleans Pelicans 134

Another day, another 20-point game for Williamson.

This time it wasn't enough for the Pelicans to get the win, but Williamson still did his thing, sometimes taking on the entire Timberwolves roster by himself.

Game 14: More history

Zion's line: 24 PTS, 3 REBS, 2 ASTS in 30 MINS

The result: New Orleans Pelicans 116, Cleveland Cavaliers 104

Make that 10 straight games with 20 or more points for Williamson, which is - you guessed it - an NBA record for a player his age.

Game 13: The rebound that went viral

Zion's line: 29 PTS, 6 REBS, 3 ASTS in 32 MINS

The result: Los Angeles Lakers 118, New Orleans Pelicans 109

Williamson even makes rebounds look cool.

THIS ANGLE IS CRAZY 😳 (via @hoopmixtape)

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Game 12: Stars in comeback win vs. Warriors

Zion's line: 28 PTS, 7 REBS, 2 ASTS in 33 MINS

The result: New Orleans Pelicans 115, Golden State Warriors 101

Eighth straight 20-plus point games for Williamson, as he combined with Jrue Holiday to spark the Pelicans to a 12-point comeback win in San Francisco.

This is Williamson's fourth straight game scoring 25-plus at better than 55% shooting, becoming the fourth rookie to do so since the NBA-ABA merger after Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal and Jay Williams.

Game 11: Keeping the good games coming

Zion's line: 25 PTS, 4 REBS, 3 ASTS in 29 MINS

The result: New Orleans Pelicans 128, Portland Trail Blazers 115

In a wire-to-wire win for the Pelicans in Portland, Williamson scored 20-plus points in his seventh straight game.

He became the first rookie in the last 20 seasons with three straight games of 20 or more points in the paint.

Game 10: Making history

Zion's line: 32 PTS, 6 REBS, 1 AST in 31 MINS

The result: Oklahoma City Thunder 123, New Orleans Pelicans 118

In addition to setting a new career-high against the Thunder, Williamson became only the third No. 1 pick over the last 30 years to score 200 points in their first 10 games.

The two other players who did it? Shaquille O'Neal and Allen Iverson.

Game 9: A new career-high

Zion's line: 31 PTS, 9 REBS, 5 ASTS in 28 MINS

The result: New Orleans Pelicans 138, Portland Trail Blazers 117

According to Elias Sports, Williamson became the first rookie since NBA-ABA merger in 1976-77 to record a 30-point, 5-rebound, 5-assist game in 30 minutes or less with this performance.

Williamson once again did it in spectacular fashion - three of his 10 made shots were dunks.

Game 7: First contest vs. the reigning MVP

Zion's line: 20 PTS, 7 REBS, 5 ASTS in 33 MINS

The result: Milwaukee Bucks 120, New Orleans Pelicans 108

Williamson's first matchup against the reigning MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo didn't disappoint. The duo went head-to-head on a few plays, providing many with a duel we could be set to see for a long time.

Though he found a way to stuff the stat sheet, this was Williamson's toughest game yet, as he shot just 5-for-19 from the field - the first time in his NBA career that he has shot less than 50.0% from the field.

Game 5: Career-high 24 as Pelicans with 3rd straight

Zion's line: 24 PTS (9-15 FG), 6 REBS, 3 ASTS, team-high +25 in 29 MINS

The result: New Orleans Pelicans 139, Memphis Grizzlies 111

Williamson won the first of three possible matchups between the top two picks of the 2019 NBA Draft.

Williamson's best bucket in this game was easily this one:

Game 4: First road game. First win streak and a season-high in minutes

Zion's line: 14 PTS (7-13 FG's), 9 REBS, 1 AST in 30 MINS

The result: New Orleans Pelicans 125, Cleveland Cavaliers 111

The rookie gets his first taste of win streak in his first career road game as the Pelicans use a huge first quarter (40 points) to victory in Cleveland.

For Williamson, the game marked a career-high in minutes (30) as he scored 14, his fourth straight double-digit scoring game in as many games.

Not a lot of highlights in this one but he did his bit. Just took care of his business with zero turnovers in his time on the floor.

Game 3: First double-double. First W

Zion's line: 21 PTS (9-16 FG), 11 REB in 27 MIN

The result: New Orleans Pelicans 123, Boston Celtics 108

More minutes meant more production for Williamson, who recorded the first double-double of his NBA career.

And, of course, he provided the highlights as well.

Game 2: The Follow Up

Zion's line: 15 PTS (7-9 FG), 6 REB in 21 MIN

The result: Denver Nuggets 113, New Orleans Pelicans 106

He didn't sink four triples but Zion did a solid job following up a historic debut.

Ultimately, we'll remember this one for two things...

Zion's first career dunk.

And the block.

As the minutes increase, so will the highlights. And the wins.

Game 1: The Debut

Zion's line: 22 PTS (8-11 FG, 4-4 3PT), 7 REB, 3 AST in

The result: San Antonio Spurs 121, New Orleans Pelicans 117

After missing the first 44 games of the season, Williamson made his highly-anticipated debut as the Pelicans hosted the Spurs.

It was well worth the wait.

Playing in short three to four-minute bursts, Williamson didn't do much in the first three quarters, scoring just five points.

In the fourth quarter, he exploded.

The 19-year-old scored 17 straight points in the fourth quarter, including a perfect 4-for-4 display from beyond the arc, electrifying the home crowd at the Smoothie King Center. A sign of things to come.

The Prelude

Preseason averages: 23.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.5 steals per game

The hype began during his lone season at Duke and it was substantiated in the preseason.

While exhibition wins and losses are inconsequential, Zion did nothing short of impress in his first games against professional competition.

Just look at the numbers:

  • Oct. 7 vs. Atlanta - 16 PTS (6-13 FG), 7 REB, 3 AST, 3 STL in 28 MIN
  • Oct. 9 vs. Chicago - 29 PTS (12-13 FG), 4 REB, 4 AST in 27 MIN
  • Oct. 11 vs. Utah - 26 PTS (9-12 FG), 5 REB,1 AST in 23 MIN
  • Oct. 13 vs. San Antonio - 22 PTS (8-11 FG), 10 REB, 2 STL in 31 MIN

If there were any doubts, they should have been erased by the final preseason game.

The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.

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