On Monday night, New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson made his National Basketball Association preseason debut as his “new-look” Pelicans defeated the host Atlanta Hawks 133-109. Last night’s game served as an indicator of things to come this season, as it’s clear Zion will be dropping-jaws across the NBA with his legendary-dunking exploits on a regular basis. The first overall pick in this year’s draft threw down three monstrous dunks, ushering an unspoken warning of things to come this season.
When asked about his first professional dunk, ESPN reported that Zion said, “I saw the lane open up. This isn’t high school or college anymore; you gotta go up strong. So I went up strong and was able to finish.”
Despite weighing 285 pounds, Zion is fast, agile and explosive during the game, and can be seen blowing by defenders while attacking the rim. In his lone season competing for Duke University, the 19-year-old All-American was a man among boys. Despite graduating to the NBA, his physical maturity will translate well in the more-physical professional league.
For the game, the rookie went 6/13 from the field for 16 points including the dunks. Zion played a well rounded game, adding seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. The only black marks on his stat-sheet were his four turnovers, which are normal when a young player transitions to the NBA.
There has been a ton of hype surrounding the youngster dating back to his days in high school, and what his future holds remains to be seen. However, despite critics saying Zion is nothing-more than an explosive-dunk machine, the forward dismissed the notion by telling ESPN, “I don’t think dunking would have just gotten me here…Had to be like somewhat of a good basketball player to get here.”
It’s uncertain how long it will take the Pelicans’ young roster to develop into legitimate playoff contenders. It can take time for a young nucleus to gel, and for the franchise to discover their identity in the wake of Anthony Davis’ departure to Los Angeles. Nevertheless, there is one thing that is ABSOLUTELY clear. Pelicans’ season-ticket sales will be on the rise, and Youtube will see an abundance of traffic each time someone excitedly asks, “Did you see that dunk,” regarding Zion’s most recent high-flying exploit.
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