In the aftermath of the Pelicans' final game of the season, young star Zion Williamson reflected on the past few months and looked ahead to when he can finally take the court again.
After missing the entire season, the young stud is ready and eager to rejoin his team and show the world what they can do when fully healthy.
“It helped a lot, just to come back and feel the allure of this place and just be around my teammates,” Williamson said. “Being around my teammates was the biggest mental change for me. At first I was in a mentally bad space, but when I got around the fellas, it’s always good vibes with them."
“Being real, it sucks watching from the sideline. I just want to be out there. But just seeing the potential, we’ve got a lot of great pieces. I’m excited to get on the court with those guys.”
Williamson believes he could’ve helped New Orleans late in the season, but added that ultimately a decision was made for him to sit out from a long-term perspective.
“From a physical standpoint, I definitely could have played (this spring),” he said. “But me and my team and the front office and the (Pelicans), we decided longevity was better than trying to rush back.”
It can be easy to forget how good Zion is when he's on the floor. Last season, his second in the league, he averaged 27 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game on 61% shooting.
Unfortunately, injuries got in the way of his development this season, and he was unable to take the floor. All the while, rumors about possible weight problems and questions about his loyalty to the Pelicans were gaining increasingly more steam.
In the end, though, Williamson has denied it all. He's committed to NOLA, is on his way back to form, is looking forward to taking the court next season, and could earn up to $223 million on an extension.
If all goes right, the Pels could be a force in the Western Conference for years to come.