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Zion Williamson puts up career-best performance, hits NBA stardom

New Orleans Pelicans' Zion Williamson

It wasn’t always going to be this way for New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson. The No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft was seen as a prodigy dating back to his high school days.

Once Williamson dominated with Duke as a five-star recruit, most saw the big man as a generational talent.

Unfortunately, injuries pretty much derailed his first three NBA seasons. Williamson played a combined 85 games during that span due to a combination of lower-body injuries and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Back at full health after signing a rookie-level max contract this past summer, Williamson has now officially hit stardom.

There’s no better example of this than what we saw against multi-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.

Williamson continued his dominating recent play by scoring 43 points on 14-of-21 shooting in a career-best performance. This included Williamson going on a 13-0 run all by himself in the fourth quarter. Yes, a 13-0 run. In fact, he scored New Orleans’ final 14 points of the game in a 119-118 win.

You. Must. Be. Kidding. At 22 years old, this dude can be something special. He’s proving it a ton as a fourth-year player in 2022-23 after missing all of last season.

Remember, we’re talking about the same player that opened his career doing things as a rookie that we have not seen since the LeBron James had some hair back in 2003-04.

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zion williamson
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into Wednesday night’s game, Williamson was averaging 29.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists on a ridiculous 64% shooting from the field over his previous 10 outings. That came before he missed the past three games due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

This also has an upstart Pelicans squad at 10 games over .500 and looking to be very much a threat in what seems to be a wide-open Western Conference thus far this season.

Sure we can be concerned about Williamson’s injury history. His relationship with the Pelicans’ brass has not been great in three-plus seasons.

But the very same dude who rocked the college basketball world with highlight-reel play after highlight-reel play is now finally living up to expectations. He’s doing so with a playoff-caliber team and in the midst of a season in which the young stars around the Assocation are making names for themselves.

While we continue to talk about the Luka Doncic’s and Ja Morant’s of the world, let’s not forget the pedigree Zion Williamson brought with him to the NBA. He’s now filling those size-15 shoes, and it’s going to be a ton of fun moving forward.