This season has not gone to plan for the New Orleans Pelicans and neither did their Friday night matchup against the Denver Nuggets. After leading by as many as 14 points, the Pelicans broke down the stretch, and were called for a shot clock offense on a potential game-tying ownership in the closing seconds. They went on to lose 113-108, blowing a double-digit lead for the 12 th time this season.
There have been some bright spots for the Pelicans this season, nevertheless, namely Zion Williamson looking like the real deal in his very first complete season in the league. It was fitting, then, that as the group dropped another heart breaker on Friday, he put up the best offensive video game of his profession.
Shooting an outrageous 16- of-19 from the field, Williamson finished with a career-high 39 points in the loss. He also grabbed 10 rebounds, dished out 5 helps and added a steal and two blocks for good procedure. Single-game plus-minus isn’t a stat you want to count on, however the truth he ended up plus-13 in a five-point loss gives you an indication of how crucial he is to this group.
As he is essentially every night, Williamson was unstoppable at the rim. The Pelicans did an excellent job getting him the ball on the move, and once he’s decreasing hill there’s little hope of stopping him. Couple that with the Nuggets’ general absence of rim protection– 25 th in the league in blocks per video game– and you have a recipe for a big night.
His complete highlights are worth watching as always, however this play in the 2nd quarter stood out as a declaration about his different level of athleticism. He captures the ball in the corner, starts to back in towards the basket and after that spins so quickly he in fact loses his balance. Yet instead of dropping he manages to gather himself and rise for a slam all in one movement.
Nobody his size should have the ability to move and leap like that, but he does it every night and is apparently only improving. It would be a real pity if we lose out on Williamson in the playoffs this season– the Pels are now 19-25, and 2.5 games out of the last play-in area– however if so it definitely will not be his fault.