After putting together one of the most electric three-minute stretches you’ll ever see in an NBA debut, Zion Williamson has done nothing but continue to validate his rapidly emerging superstar status for a Pelicans team that still has eyes on the playoffs.
It’s going to be a tough road. The Pelicans are five games back of the No. 8 Grizzlies in the loss column, and there are two teams between them. One of those teams is the Blazers, who came to New Orleans on Tuesday having won seven of their last nine, and it was New Orleans that came out with a 138-117 victory that could prove significant down the stretch.
For his part, Williamson had yet another sensational showing, posting 31 points, nine rebounds and five assists while shooting 10 for 17 from the field and 11 for 14 from the free-throw line. He did all this in 28 minutes.
Williamson, who’s averaging 21 points per game, has scored at least 20 points in seven of his first nine career games, which puts him, yet again, in historic company. Per ESPN stats and info, Williamson is the only player over the last 30 seasons to accomplish that feat. The only two players who’ve come close are Shaquille O’Neal and Grant Hill, who both scored 20 points seven times in their first 10 career games.
Taking it a bit deeper, Williamson is now the 20th player in history to score at least 14 points in each of his first nine career games, with 15 of the previous 19 players to do it being in the Hall of Fame, per Elias Sports. The last rookie to score at least 14 points in each of his first nine games was Dikembe Mutombo in 1991-92. Prior to that, a couple of guys you may have heard of were the most recent to achieve such a mark.
Yeah, that’s Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing. Not exactly bad company for Zion, who regular looks like a man playing against boys despite being just 19 years old.
Whether the Pelicans, who hung onto J.J. Redick and Jrue Holiday at the trade deadline, will crack the playoffs this season remains to be seen. But either way, with Williamson and All-Star Brandon Ingram leading the way, and Lonzo Ball continuing to show a lot of promise, the future is certainly bright in New Orleans.