Zion matches Michael Jordan with insane 35-year first
AFTER sitting out the first few months of his rookie season, No.1 NBA Draft pick Zion Williamson is showing that the wait was worth it .
Since exploding in the fourth quarter of his debut match with a performance that gave just a taste of what the NBA has in Williamson, he has piled on the points and electrified the league.
The 19-year-old superstar-in-the-making has scored more than 20 points in eight of his first 10 games, hitting a career high 32 points despite a 123-118 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
It was his second straight night of 30-plus points, after hitting 31 points against the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday.
Incredibly, he's the first rookie in 35 years to reach the mark, the first player since the great Michael Jordan.
It seems a long way from the speculation before the season started when it was pondered whether Williamson would be able to play in his first season and be as effective as he had been in the past.
Zion Williamson is the first rookie in 35 years to record eight 20-point games in the first 10 games of his career.— StatMuse (@statmuse) February 14, 2020
Who was that rookie? Michael Jordan. pic.twitter.com/PQMB0Nwina
Trail Blazers forward and NBA legend Carmelo Anthony was full of praise after coming up against the young gun earlier in the week.
"I don't really think he's comparable to anyone that I have seen," Portland forward Anthony said of Williamson.
"Someone who is as powerful as that, who jumps like that ... you can tell he's getting better and getting a feel for the game."
And he's quickly racking up the records.
Zion Williamson is now over 200 points (and counting) through 10 career games...— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 14, 2020
Over the last 30 seasons, the only former No. 1 picks to score 200 points within their first 10 career games are Hall of Famers Shaquille O'Neal (238 in 1992-93) and Allen Iverson (224 in 1996-97). pic.twitter.com/kDPrJec0nu
He's also put himself in great standing to go down as one of the greats, scoring more than 14 points in every one of his first nine NBA games to become the 20th player to do so.
Fifteen of the 19 who had already done it were Hall of Famers and he's the first since Dikembe Mutombo in 1991-92.
But he's also not just an offensive weapon, pulling off more highlight reel blocks that the world can seemingly watch all day.
Williamson is now the top rookie in terms of scoring, with 22.1 points per game and 7.5 rebounds. He's moved ahead of the second pick Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies, who averages 17.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 7.1 assists.
While Morant appeared to be the frontrunner for the Rookie of the Year award, fans have debated whether Williamson is making a play for it despite missing a big chuck of the season.
Obviously, Ja will win ROY. If Zion maintains this pace he's the better player. Ja is a supernova. He wins because he played more games.— Chris Martin Palmer (@ChrisPalmerNBA) February 14, 2020
Earlier in the week, the Pelicans star admitted he'd surprised even himself with how he'd settled into the game.
"I expected to make an impact, but I didn't expect to do nothing like this," Williamson said.
"I was kind of looking to come in and just kind of fit in and just not try to mess up. My teammates and coaches are always pushing me, like 'no, be outside the box'.
"People are trying to find their own way (to stop me), but I feel like my game is so unique that I'll be able to adjust to it on the fly.
"At the end of the day, I'm 19. I've still got a lot of room for growing. I will mess up. I'm not perfect, I will have bad games. I'm just going to learn from them."
Teammate Josh Hart said Williamson's rapid development had been "scary".
"He's a walking 24-and-eight guy," he said earlier this week.
"He's a guy that you think he's doing well, then you look up and he's 39 (points) and four (rebounds).
"That's the kind of player he is. He's only played (nine) games. It's scary to see how good he is this early. Hopefully, he can continue to keep getting better day by day. He's going to be a problem."
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If Zion had played the whole year Pelicans would be in the playoffs. Pels have a way better roster.— Chris Martin Palmer (@ChrisPalmerNBA) February 14, 2020
Zion scored 32 points in 31 minutes tonight. After scoring 31 points in 28 minutes in last game. Sure he’s shattering rookie records.— Andrew Perloff (@andrewperloff) February 14, 2020
Remember that GM that said he would have taken Ja Morant first overall, and how that asinine quote spread like wildfire in the first half of Zion's debut? Good. Frickin'. Times. https://t.co/nhwt3UDgzw— Mark Strotman (@markstrot) February 14, 2020