Zion Williamson giving Pelicans a big boost

first_img Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers He is expected to become a better defender, rebounder and shooter; and he’ll likely learn to read the game better. He says that off the court, he’s working on improving his time management.And yet “he’s doing it all pretty darn well right now,” Reddick said.“The experience has been great,” Williamson said. “I missed the first half of the season, to finally get out there and be with my teammates, it’s been great.”That statement – focused not on Williamson himself, or for that matter, on Zion and LeBron – is indicative of the young man that New Orleans is getting to know, Coach Alvin Gentry said.“I keep telling everyone, he’s all about the team,” Gentry said. “He just wants to be part of the guys, he wants to do everything he can to help us win games and it’s never about him.“These things are tough; him having to stand here every day and you guys ask him all these questions about him personally, that’s really not who he is. He wants to talk about our team and how we trying to get better and trying to make a playoff run. Those are the things that are important to him.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersBut not nearly as much was expected of Holiday as is being asked of his 19-year-old teammate, who has done little in his first 12 NBA games to quell the hype surrounding him.The 6-foot-6 power forward missed the first 44 games of the season while recovering from a right knee scope. But entering Tuesday’s game against the Lakers – Mardi Gras back in New Orleans – the explosive, 285-pound phenom had been phenomenal.In his first dozen outings, Williamson averaged 22.8 points on 58.6 percent shooting, to go with 7.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists and a usage rate of 27 percent. In his first 10 games alone, he became the third player with seven 20-point games and the third rookie in 30 years to score more than 200 points in that span.Most importantly, Williamson’s presence makes New Orleans – which finds itself chasing a Western Conference playoff berth with 24 games remaining following Tuesday’s – better.With him in the lineup, the Pelicans were 7-5 entering Tuesday, averaging 53.2 points in the paint (5.3 more than without him), 16.4 second-chance points (2.4 more) and pulling down 49.4 rebounds (3.5 more). Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed “The kid is going to be special,” James said at the Lakers’ shootaround, not hesitant to share his thoughts on one of the game’s brightest young stars.“He’s super explosive. Super intelligent, as well, out on the floor. Everyone kind of like just recognizes his leaping ability as far as on his dunks, but his second jump when he misses a shot, his ability to pass in transition, he has very infectious energy – you can tell guys like to play with him.”Those guys with front-row seats are similarly impressed, raving – in every city the Pelicans visit – about Williamson’s maturity, his efficiency, his rebounding.“There’s a few players in my career where you feel like you’re watching them or you’re playing with them and you’re like, ‘Man, it’s not his night tonight, it’s not his night,’” Pelicans shooting guard JJ Redick said. “And then you look up, ‘He’s got 27 and eight, and five assists and two blocks. Like what just happened?’”And he’s just scratching the surface, they all say.Related Articlescenter_img Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs LOS ANGELES — So you want to know what LeBron James means to Zion Williamson?Likely conscious of how much attention any comment he made about James would draw, the New Orleans Pelicans wunderkind politely swatted away that question about the Lakers’ superstar at shootaround ahead of his first meeting with James.“Honestly, can we ask those questions after the game? My main focus right now is just trying to help my team try to get a win,” Williamson said, promising, “After.”Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday can recall feeling anxious before squaring off with his idols for the first time as a pro: “Being from L.A., Kobe (Bryant) is one of them … and Shaq was one of them, I was kind of scared – not even gonna lie,” he said. How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years last_img

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