1 Play the Pelicans Need to Use to Get Zion Williamson the Ball When He Returns

The New Orleans Pelicans are missing the backbone of their franchise during the first part of the NBA season, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t getting ready for him when he returns. Although Zion Williamson’s preseason was cut short following his knee issues, the New Orleans Pelicans were already giving the NBA a glimpse of how they plan to use Williamson on a play-by-play basis. 

Although we have yet to see Williamson make his official NBA debut, the teasers that people have seen of what is possibly to come may have them salivating over his eventual place in the NBA. 

1 Pelicans play designed to get the ball to Zion Williamson

According to SBNation, the Pelicans were using the Twenty-One alignment known as “Pistol” when Williamson was playing, and they were doing so to incredible results. The play saw two guards dribbling down the side of the court with Williamson waiting at the top of the key to set a screen. Once he set the screen, Williamson would cut toward the basket for a dunk or layup. 

The play is the perfect way for guard tandem like Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball to use their playmaking abilities and speed to get the ball where it needs to be. It also perfectly utilizes Williamson’s unique combination of size and athleticism to power his way toward the hoop. The team will need to broaden its playbook, but formations such as this will work wonders on the break when the team is looking for a quick score and could become the staple play for the most exciting young prospect in the NBA.

With so much hype behind Zion’s entrance into the NBA, there is only one thing that remains, however. 

Can he meet the hype?

The Pelicans figure to rely on one play to get Zion Williamson the ball when he returns from injury.
Zion Williamson before his knee injury. | Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Zion Williamson has been in the national spotlight since before he was old enough to drive a car. Many saw the potential written all over him from an early age, and he is yet to disappoint in any regard. Like LeBron James or Dwight Howard before him, many believed that he did not need college to make it in the NBA. However, the NBA’s rules meant that he needed to do a year in school before he could make the jump, unlike James and Howard. 

While Williamson’s time at Duke was notable — he put on clinics against college competition while he was on the court, the stint did help highlight a concern that the Pelicans and NBA fans began to notice. During the opening moments of a much-anticipated game against North Carolina, Williamson exploded out of his shoe and hurt his knee

It wasn’t his first knee injury, but it was the first one that he sustained since he entered Duke. A knee injury can be a dangerous way to begin a career, and while players have been able to overcome them, others had their careers derailed before they even began. Williamson’s introduction to the NBA has been marred with injury since. 

First, Williamson missed all but one game of summer league following a minor knee injury. Then, after showing flashes of brilliance in the NBA preseason, he was feeling soreness in his knee. These recurring issues have to be a concern for the Pelicans going forward. 

What comes next for Zion Williamson and the Pelicans? 

If Williamson can prove that he can stay on the court, those concerns will be quickly forgotten. Plays like the “Pistol” and whatever else the Pelicans can come up with will make him an immediate star in the NBA. However, the team needs to make sure that they do what is best for the long-term safety of Williamson, or they could regret things for years to come. 

Nobody questions Williamson’s talent, but health doesn’t care about talent and potential. It would be a shame if these plays were a glimpse of what could have been instead of what is to come.