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New Orleans Pelicans

New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson puts versatility on display in second career game

If you haven't heard by now, Zion Williamson put forth one of the most impressive debuts in NBA history.

MORE: Breaking down Zion's NBA debut

But how would he follow it up?

In the second game of his NBA career, Zion and the New Orleans Pelicans hosted the Denver Nuggets. The 19-year-old would again start in the frontcourt alongside Derrick Favors and again, was under a minutes restriction that saw him play in four-to-six minute "bursts."

The result? In a seven-point loss, Williamson finished with 15 points on a tidy 7-for-9 shooting to go along with six rebounds in under 21 minutes of action. Despite losing by seven, New Orlans outscored Denver by 16 points while Zion was on the floor thanks to his all-over impactful performance.

Here's a breakdown of how he did it:

BOX SCORE | PLAY-BY-PLAY

First Quarter

When: 12:00-8:03

Time on floor: 3:57

Score: Nuggets 10, Pelicans 9

Less than a minute in, Williamson flushed the first of many dunks in his NBA career - an alley-oop connection with Jrue Holiday.

The athleticism is nothing short of awe-inspiring, but the most impressive part of this play is Zion's movement without the ball to free himself from the defender for the lob pass. Defenders will jockey for post position with Williamson throughout the season, meaning we'll likely see plenty of lob plays like the one above

Speaking of post position, he took advantage of a smaller defender in Torrey Craig for his second bucket of the game - a slightly unorthodox left hook over his left shoulder that was categorized as a turnaround jumper.

He would exit the game at the next dead ball.

Four points in under four minutes.

Second Quarter

When: 12:00-6:28

Time on floor: 5:32

Score: Pelicans 18, Nuggets 11

There aren't many sights scarier than the 6-foot-6 285-pound frame of Zion Williamson coming at you full speed in the open floor.

Fellow rookie Michael Porter Jr. was faced with that reality early in the second quarter and was forced to take a foul. While it only resulted in Williamson splitting a pair of free throws, this is another dynamic that will keep defences on their heels all season.

It'll be a familiar sight, as Zion illustrated just moments later.

His defence translated into offence as a deflection led to an open court finger roll in which he took off from… a step inside the free throw line.

He would follow that by establishing post position against an even smaller defender, burying Gary Harris in the post to bring his total for the game to nine points.

Burst No. 2 over. Nine points in under 10 minutes.

Third Quarter

When: 12:00-5:40

Time on floor: 6:20

Score: Pelicans 16, Nuggets 12

Williamson's longest burst of his first two games came in the third quarter of this one.

It was an impactful one, too.

On the Pelicans' first offensive possession of the second half, Zion again excelled without the ball, cutting to receive a pass from Holiday that resulted in a power layup.

Zion followed that by playing solid defence on Jerami Grant on the very next possession, drawing an offensive foul just by moving his feet and staying in front of his man. It wasn't the last time he would put his All-Defensive Team potential on display in this game, either.

Back on offence, Williamson was now the roll man in a pick-and-roll situation with Lonzo Ball. After setting a screen at the break spot, an aggressive roll from Williamson resulted in a powerful left-handed layup assisted by Ball.

Willamson continued his impactful third by again putting the Nuggets defence on its heels in transition, using a full head of steam to draw yet another foul on Grant.

He would miss both freebies but that doesn't change how scary he is in transition. Opposing teams will be forced to foul or suffer the consequences.

To close his time on the floor in the third, Zion did work on the right block, patiently setting himself up for a turnaround jumper that was honestly smooth as butter.

That's 15 points in just over 15 minutes.

Fourth Quarter

When: 12:00- 6:52

Time: 5:08

Score: Pelicans 10, Nuggets 5

He didn't quite match the fourth quarter output from his debut but Zion did deliver a signature moment in the final frame.

Remember that All-Defensive Team potential I alluded to, he again put it on display in the fourth by sending this shot to another stratosphere.

It was Zion's last recorded stat before his night ended with over half of the fourth remaining.

The block electrified the Smoothie King Center crowd but the home team couldn't fully capitalize on the momentum as it fell behind by as many as 13 points in the final frame. Without Williamson, a late rally fell short and the Pelicans fall to 17-29 on the season.

Overall

Stat line: 15 PTS (7-9 FG), 6 REB, 1 STL in 21 MIN

Plus/Minus: +16

The more damage we see Zion do in limited time, the more we can't help but wonder what he'll be able to do when he is no longer under a minutes restriction.

That the Pelicans were outscored by so much without him on the floor speaks to how impactful he is. And the shot chart only tells part of it.

You can see where Zion did the most of his damage in Game 2 but he did so out of post ups, in transition, as a cutter and as a roll man. With so many facets in his game, the prospect is even scarier moving forward once he continues to learn the NBA game and play better alongside his teammates.

ONE POSSESSION: Zion already has superstar-like gravity

He didn't explode for four triples - in fact, he missed his only attempt - but having already showcased the potential for that aspect of his game, this versatile showing was more than a solid follow up for his debut performance.

Zion will look to get his first regular season win Sunday as the Pelicans host the Boston Celtics.

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