Zion Williamson: Tried to not ‘mess up’ as New Orleans Pelicans rookie

New Orleans Pelicans ahead Zion Williamson didn’t have the rookie yr many anticipated, partially due to accidents.

A knee harm delayed his debut till January, after which he wasn’t capable of be a whole go within the bubble due to a household concern that precipitated him to be away from the group for nearly two weeks. Regardless of that, Williamson nonetheless managed to common 22.5 factors and 6.3 rebounds in 24 video games on 58.3% taking pictures.

However even when Williamson was on the court docket, he informed reporters Wednesday, he did not really feel like he could possibly be his regular self all through the season.

“I really feel like there’s a whole lot of my recreation that I wasn’t capable of showcase final yr as a result of simply attempting to slot in with the group and discovering my place, simply attempting to not be the rookie to mess up,” Williamson mentioned. “It was so much mentally that I used to be attempting to course of suddenly. Beginning off recent in yr two, it is a new employees and a whole lot of new issues occurring round right here, so hopefully we will come collectively faster with that.”

David Griffin, the Pelicans’ govt vp of basketball operations, informed reporters Monday that the group finally envisions Williamson having the ability to play some minutes at small ahead and ultimately “play with the ball extra, play extra as a slasher and fewer as a post-up presence.”

The particular person tasked with getting that finished is new Pelicans head coach Stan Van Gundy. Williamson mentioned Van Gundy’s “old-fashioned” method is one thing that reminds him of his stepfather, Lee Anderson, and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

“I really feel like that is going to be one thing I will simply relate with,” Williamson mentioned of Van Gundy. “I am excited to work with him. I can see his love and fervour for the sport even when he is displaying me small issues throughout the recreation. I like stuff like that. I am very excited to work with him.”

Williamson labored out with Anderson within the offseason as they refined his recreation. When he returns to the court docket together with his teammates, he mentioned he simply desires to be “a basketball participant.”

“As soon as I really feel like I do know my teammates, know the place all people goes to be at sure factors, simply being a basketball participant will enable me to assault from anyplace on the court docket, get higher pictures and facilitate,” Williamson mentioned.

Williamson mentioned he feels higher “mentally and bodily” after a attempting first season wrapped up in what the group dubbed as burst restrictions. Whereas the group hasn’t mentioned definitively if Williamson can be on any type of restrictions when the season begins — Van Gundy mentioned Monday nobody has informed him both method — Williamson is trying ahead to being wholesome from the soar.

“After all, I am trying ahead to that very a lot,” Williamson mentioned. “I do not assume no participant desires restrictions. I am hoping yr two goes to be so much totally different.”

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