Talk about securing the bag – Williamson secured the equivalent of millions of bags with one signature.
Wednesday also just happened to be his 22nd birthday, and what a birthday present the Pelicans gave him.
Now that Williamson will have the opportunity to create generational wealth for himself and his descendants, he seems to have his eyes focused on what’s next and that has nothing to do with money.
"I want to prove that I'm a winner. I want to win with coach. I want to win with my teammates. The ultimate goal is to win a championship. We're hungry."
Zion Williamson on what he wants to prove entering his 4th NBA season.pic.twitter.com/l1494FbJWs
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) July 6, 2022
It’s always gratifying and heartwarming to watch pro athletes become rich right when they turn pro and have the ability to bless their loved ones, especially considering that many of them come from low-income or working-class backgrounds.
But now, Williamson has to prove one thing more than anything else in order to make New Orleans’ investment in him worthwhile.
Williamson Simply Cannot Stay Healthy
When Williamson came out of Duke University and turned pro three years ago, he was one of the most hyped rookies in recent memory, and perhaps the most hyped rookie since LeBron James.
Unfortunately, a series of injuries have seriously marred a promising career.
He tore his meniscus during the exhibition season of his rookie year, which cost him the first few months of the regular season.
Williamson ended up playing in just 24 contests that year.
After appearing in 61 of a possible 72 games in 2021, Williamson again fell prey to the injury bug this past season when a fractured foot prevented him from playing in any games.
In his first three seasons, he has played in just 85 games, which is the equivalent of just over one full season.
For Williamson to prove he’s worth his new contract, as well as to prove he’s a winner, as he said at his press conference, he needs to stay relatively healthy – period.
When he is healthy, however, he is a huge force to be reckoned with.
He has career averages of 25.7 points and 7.0 rebounds a game while shooting 60.4 percent from the field.
Williamson may not be much of a perimeter shooter, but he is virtually unstoppable in the paint.
Zion Williamson has the most points in the paint per game (19.5) since Shaq in 2003 (19.6)
He’s only 20 years old 🤯 pic.twitter.com/wf0jWPWnLN
— Pelicans Nation (@PelsNationCP) June 24, 2021
With his 6-foot-6, 284-pound frame, opposing players look like middle schoolers trying to defend him when he wheels into the paint.
If He Stays Healthy, The Pelicans Have A Promising Squad
What sometimes gets lost in the concern for Williamson’s health is the fact that New Orleans is starting to build a very respectable roster.
Just three years after losing franchise big man Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Pelicans returned to the playoffs and put a bit of a scare into the minds of the top-seeded Phoenix Suns.
Zion Williamson went 14-14 in the paint tonight.
The only player with more makes without a miss in the paint in a game over the last 25 seasons is Hakeem Olajuwon (15) in 1998. pic.twitter.com/PNXI8t6Np8
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 13, 2021
In addition, center Jonas Valanciunas is somewhat underrated, as he averaged 17.8 points and 11.4 rebounds a game this past season.
If Williamson can avoid major injuries from here on out, all New Orleans may need to become a force in the Western Conference is an above-average point guard who will be a floor leader and run the show.