Zion Williamson: How do the Pelicans avoid the same mistakes they made with Anthony Davis?

Zion vs Heat
Zion Williamson is putting up some outrageous stats in 2021. Photo from UPI.

A look at the best Zion Williamson stats 2021, and how the Pelicans should build going forward…

As you get older in life you realized there are fewer new things in life. Growing up is this opportunity to find out new and exciting things but as time passes you realize that most things are not original. Almost everything is a variation of another thing from the past so much so that even people you know are shades of one another. So, seeing something I had never seen before was very exciting.

Zion Williamson is something we have never seen before.

Zion Williamson stats 2021: Breaking records

Before he even scored his first points in the NBA, many compared him to Charles Barkley, mostly due to his height and built. That was a lazy comparison. He is showing us why in his 2nd season. It’s even unfair to call this his 2nd season as he still has not played 82 games due to the injury last year.

Right now, he is playing and he is establishing himself among the NBA elite. When it comes to ranking players, yours truly focuses on two things that elevate one player above the other. The first one is efficiency because, well, it’s important. What use is a great player if he is not efficient. The 2nd one is aesthetic. As visual creatures, we are driven by our eyesight and some players draw you in more than others. Zion has both.

His efficiency is scary. He had 25 games where he scored over 20 points while shooting over 50% from the field which matched the record of Shaquille O’Neal. In the shot clock era, these two are the only ones to do it in their young careers.

He is currently 7th in FG% (62), 9th in eFG% (63) and 7th in TS% (66).


He is by far the most used player out of all those ranking above or beside him. It’s quite absurd for someone that young to be that efficient. It’s even more absurd when considering the number of shots he is taking as the first option of his team. But besides efficiency, Zion also has aesthetic.

Williamson’s freak athleticism

I know, I know, when we talk about aesthetically pleasing players, we mostly speak about those fluid guards with silky smooth shooting strokes, players like Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and so on.

Zion is not like that, but he is on the other side of that spectrum which is no less fascinating. A man that large should not be able to fly that high or move that quick.

Seeing Zion live, as he flies and runs, has to be fascinating. You probably can’t comprehend that such as player exists.

But what makes him so fascinating is not the force with which he moves his colossal frame, but the elegancy with which he does it. Look closely at how he lays the ball in, or how he dunks and you will see a flying ballet dancer, a man who twists and turns his body finding holes among the many bodies of defenders. He is built like a tank but even when you double team or triple-team him, his efficiency does not drop. His answer is a smooth mid-air adjustment and the ball still goes in.

In the last 15 games, his efficiency is even more absurd especially after he started playing with the ball in his hands. Point Zion is an unsolvable riddle for NBA defences.

During that stretch, Zion is averaging 31 points per game while shooting 62% from the field. He is also averaging five assists completely annulling the absence of Lonzo Ball.

His ‘growing up’ is impressive and besides Luka Dončić, there is no player in the last 5 years who showed more than Zion so early. And remember Luka played among men from the age of 16 while for Zion this is his first tango.

What’s the issue?

It seems everything is going perfectly for the young man. Well, the New Orleans Pelicans are the issue. Despite his absurd play, the Franchise is still nowhere near a playoff appearance. They probably can’t catch the Warriors because the Human Torch is playing his best season (maybe ever?).

Dallas and Memphis are a level above them and are out of reach. They probably won’t make the play-in game but even if they do, it’s clear the team has a lot of issues. They won’t contend in the brutal West until they solve them.

During the Anthony Davis era, the Pelicans managed to create several teams where they either had solid players who did not fit with each other or completely Frankenstein rosters where nothing worked. They need to be extremely careful not to repeat the same mistake.

Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson seem like a perfect fit on paper but on the floor, something just does not work. Ingram seems to have a bit of an ego issue oftentimes feeling the need to assert himself as the leader when in reality he should defer.

His unwillingness to allow Zion to lead kills the fluidity of their offence and results in many botched possessions. Ingram and Zion have a net rating of +0.6 ranking them as the 152nd best duo in the league.

Pelicans face tough decisions

Steven Adams is a terrible fit for this team offensively as he blocks driving lanes for Zion and then we have the Lonzo question.

He first looked awful, then great when his shot started falling, but again who knows what will happen with him considering he is a RFA.

The rest of the team is either too young or simply not good enough for any serious result at the moment. Eric Bledsoe is in a funk which hurts them as well. He is a good player who does a tremendous amount of good things for the team on the court. He is also a player who can’t make a bucket to save his life which pretty much negates all the other things he does.

The New Orleans Pelicans are simply a team that has invested capital in the wrong players.

The solution for them is to find an identity both offensively and defensively and they need to do it quick. Whatever happens though, their identity must be built around Zion. There are serious injury concerns with Zion but regardless of that, the team must build around him moving forward. He is simply too unique and too efficient to consider anything else.

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About Drew Tate 7 Articles
Drew Tate is a long time NBA fan and basketball enthusiast. He has followed the best basketball league in the world for over 15 years. After watching it for such a long time, Drew developed an interest in writing about the league, which they have done for the past several years. Drew's main interest in the league is the players whose development he has followed keenly ever since their college days. Besides that, he enjoys anything that involves analyzing the game of basketball.

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