Through the first 10 games of his NBA career, New Orleans Pelicans rookie big man Zion Williamson has proven to be the real deal on the court. Williamson has quickly made a tremendous impact with the Pelicans while demonstrating that he has a bright future ahead of him in the NBA. However, it hasn’t been an entirely easy process as he has had to make some adjustments. Williamson recently revealed what has been the hardest part for him to transition to the next level.
Zion Williamson’s hot start
It was a frustrating beginning to Williamson‘s rookie campaign that saw him miss the first few months of the season due to a knee injury.
However, Williamson returned to the floor last month and has quickly showcased why all the buzz has been around him. In his first 10 games, he has produced at a high level despite playing limited minutes averaging 22.1 points and 7.5 rebounds while shooting 57.6% from the floor and 36.4% from beyond the arc.
That has seen him record eight performances with at least 20 points, which includes the previous two outings before All-Star break being his first two 30-point games. It has put him in rare company as he has joined Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson as the only former first overall picks to score 200 points in their first 10 career games.
Williamson also became the third player to record seven 20-point performances in his first 10 career games, placing himself alongside O’Neal and Grant Hill. Although his production would suggest otherwise, it all hasn’t been gravy for the Pelicans’ rookie as there has been a tough adjustment for him.
Hardest NBA transition for Zion Williamson
The transition from the collegiate level to the NBA isn’t always the smoothest as rookies often struggle with in their first year with their adjustment.
Williamson’s production may be through the roof, but he’s no exception to that notion. He voiced during a recent interview with Complex News that the most challenging part of acclimating himself to the NBA has been the travel.
“I think definitely adjusting to the travel. You have games every other day, sometimes back-to-back. You are competing against the best players in the world every day. You can go from playing LeBron in LA to Harden and the Rockets to Giannis and the Bucks. The list just goes on and that’s every other day. I think from college to that is the hardest part.”
It’s an entirely different lifestyle for an NBA player as teams play three to four times a week, which includes traveling via plane across the country. That often includes overnight flights and constant moving that can take a toll on the players.
That’s a significant change from the collegiate level where teams play 30-plus games in an entire season over nearly that same span. There isn’t nearly as much wear and tear physically and mentally as compared to the NBA. It’s an aspect that is often overlooked when discussing a rookie’s transition process.
What to expect from Zion Williamson for rest of rookie year
Unlike many of his peers from his rookie class, Williamson hasn’t played through much of the season. That alone should leave his body more relatively fresh to go for the second half of the year.
Following the All-Star break, the Pelicans have 27 games remaining on their schedule. New Orleans is currently on the outside looking in for the playoff picture currently 5.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth spot.
The second half of the season should allow Williamson to get his legs beneath him further while providing some much-needed experience and playing time. Beyond that, there will be plenty of entertaining basketball ahead in New Orleans.