Following months of waiting, the New Orleans Pelicans finally saw their prized rookie Zion Williamson take the floor for the first time this season on Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs. It has created a tremendous amount of buzz around the team regarding his future in the league. In light of that, Milwaukee Bucks star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo has some keen words of advice for the 19-year-old as he moves through his first NBA season.
Zion Williamson’s historic debut
In the days heading into Wednesday’s game, there was the expectation that Williamson would play in a limited role on the floor.
He went through that ebbs and flows of that through the first three quarters but turned things on as he tallied 17 points in the final period of regulation that came in consecutive fashion over three minutes. His 22 points in 18 minutes played were the most for any player in under 20 minutes on the court in their first NBA game.
Williamson also tied the league record for most points in a quarter in a player’s first game in the last two decades. His 4-for-4 shooting from beyond the arc made him the first player to record that mark in their NBA debut.
His performance has created some excitement around his and the Pelicans’ future with him now in the fold. However, the reigning league MVP has voiced some words of advice for the 2019 first overall pick.
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s advice to Zion Williamson
Williamson made his return to the floor, but it was around three months after he underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee. That has throw caution in the wind for the Pelicans to handle the situation with much care given the type of injury that he suffered.
Milwaukee Bucks star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo voiced similar sentiment on Thursday, stating that he believes Williamson should keep firmly on the daily plan that New Orleans has laid out for him.
“Always have patience, work hard, and make sure you’re healthy…Don’t rush the process. You’re going to be a beast; the whole league knows you’re going to be a beast. Just take it step by step, day by day.”
Antetokounmpo also made note that Williamson was wearing a sleeve on his surgically-repaired knee that hammered home his point to trust the process. The game-changing talent is there, but there will be just as much or more considerable attention on keeping him healthy.
Williamson has tremendous potential to develop into a star in the NBA quickly, but that territory must come with a more significant commitment to keeping his body right on and off the court.
Health is key for Zion Williamson
There is no questioning Williamson’s ability on the court, but there have been concerns around his health for the long haul of his NBA career. These apprehensions began well ahead of his knee injury.
The focus of that uneasiness comes directly from his weight as he’s clocked in at around 285 pounds. Many believe it is too heavy for him to maintain a career without any health concerns. This criticism has remained, especially with his return, as he still looks like he’s more on the heavier side at this point.
At the same time, it’s something that he can work on over the next few months and in greater detail during the offseason to get his body better prepared for the physical grind on an NBA season. The Pelicans will also be quite prevalent in that regard, helping him along to get into better shape on and off the court.
With star players like Antokoumnpo offering open advice like this, it should further hammer home that he has to make his health a top priority.