The most anticipated NBA rookie season since LeBron James has somehow surpassed the hype.
With just 10 games in a debut campaign delayed by knee surgery, Zion Williamson was as dominant as Duke's and overwhelmed long-time professionals as easily as he controlled every game during his lonely college season. After playing 32 points against Donner on Thursday evening, the 19-year-old Pelicans striker was the first rookie in 35 years (Michael Jordan) to score at least 30 points in two consecutive games. Williamson also joined Jordan as the first rookie to record eight 20-point games in the first 10 games of his career.
In 10 games, no player has scored more color points in the past two decades than Williamson. He is the third number 1 since 1992 (Shaquille O & # 39; Neal, Allen Iverson) and scored 200 points in 10 games. Williamson was the first rookie since 1966 to score 30 points, five rebounds and five assists while playing less than 30 minutes.
But statistics don't tell the whole story. The approval of a future Hall of Famer does.
"I don't think it's like someone I've seen," said Carmelo Anthony. "Someone who is so powerful, who jumps like this … you can tell that he is getting better and gets a feel for the game."
The game is in a much better place than it was a month ago.
"Such a talent – he's a great guy – the whole world has to see him," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. "Of course it's good for the pelicans, but it's good for basketball. It's quite a package, both as a player and as a person."
Williamson, who led all rookies with 22.1 points per game while shooting 57.6 percent off the field with 7.5 rebounds, could not imagine becoming a must-see attraction for the second year in a row ,
"I was expecting to have an impact, but I wasn't expecting to do anything of the sort," Williamson said. "I kind of wanted to come in and just fit in and just not try to mess it up. My teammates and trainers keep urging me: "No, be outside the box."
"People try to find their own way (to stop me), but I think my game is so unique that I can adapt to it immediately." At the end of the day I'm 19. I still have a lot of room to grow. I'll screw it up. I'm not perfect, I'm going to have bad games. I will only learn from them. "
The best is yet to come.
"It's scary to see how good he's so early," said teammate Josh Hart. "He'll be a problem."