New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson didn’t have the rookie year many expected, in part due to injuries.
A knee injury delayed his debut until January, then he couldn’t be fully immersed in the bubble due to a family issue that caused him to be absent from the team for nearly two. weeks. Despite this, Williamson still managed to average 22.5 points and 6.3 rebounds in 24 games with 58.3% shots.
But even when Williamson was on the pitch, he told reporters on Wednesday, he didn’t feel like he could be normal himself throughout the season.
“I feel like there’s a lot of my game that I couldn’t highlight last year just trying to fit into the team and find my place, in just trying not to be the rookie to mess up, ”Williamson said. “It was a lot mentally that I was trying to process at the same time. Starting in year two it’s new staff and a lot of new things going on here, so hopefully we can get together with that more quickly.
David Griffin, the Pelicans’ executive vice president of basketball operations, told reporters Monday that the team is finally considering Williamson can play a few minutes at a little forward and ultimately “play with the ball more, play more like a ball. slasher and less like a pole. -up presence. ”
The person responsible for doing this is the new Pelicans head coach Stan Van Gundy. Williamson said Van Gundy’s “old-fashioned” approach reminds him of his stepfather, Lee Anderson, and Duke’s coach, Mike Krzyzewski.
“I feel like it’s going to be something that I’m going to easily relate to,” Williamson said of Van Gundy. “I am delighted to work with him. I can see his love and passion for the game even when he shows me little things in the game. I love that stuff. I am very excited to work with him. ”
Williamson worked with Anderson during the offseason as they refined his game. When he returned to the court with his teammates, he said he just wanted to be “a basketball player.”
“Once I feel like I know my teammates, know where everyone is going to be at certain times, just being a basketball player will allow me to attack from anywhere on the pitch, from get better shots and facilitate, ”said Williamson.
Williamson said he was feeling better “mentally and physically” after a grueling first season that ended in what the team called shattered restrictions. Although the team has not definitively said whether Williamson will be under restrictions at the start of the season – Van Gundy said on Monday that no one has told him either – Williamson is eager to be healthy after the jump.
“Of course I’m looking forward to that,” said Williamson. “I don’t think any player wants restrictions. I hope the second year will be very different. ”