LeBron James Says NBA 'in Great Hands' With Zion, Luka, More Young Stars

Megan ArmstrongSenior Analyst IMarch 2, 2020

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 1: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers hugs Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans before the game on March 1, 2020 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

LeBron James is not going anywhere anytime soon, but rookie top overall pick Zion Williamson is up next.

James' Los Angeles Lakers defeated Williamson's New Orleans Pelicans 122-114 on Sunday night at the Smoothie King Center. The 19-year-old phenom led all scorers with a career-high 35 points, but James was right behind him with 34 points, 13 rebounds and two steals. 

Afterward, the three-time NBA champion gave credit to Williamson, saying the NBA "is in great hands" and he's happy to share the court with the NBA's crop of young stars:

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

"The league is in great hands with a guy like Zion, Ja Morant, Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Jayson Tatum and the list goes on and on." @KingJames loves seeing the next generation thrive 🤜🤛 https://t.co/gpFZK78bPU

James also praised Williamson after the Lakers bested the Pelicans 118-109 on Feb. 25 behind his season-high 40 points:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

"The kid is special." Bron had high praise for Zion after their first meeting 🙏 https://t.co/5EFoc5ePRy

But make no mistake, James is still the King:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

LeBron James is averaging a 30-point triple-double when facing Luka Doncic, Zion Williamson and Trae Young this season. The Lakers are 7-1 in those games. https://t.co/UAJNQtnedq

James and Williamson embraced on the court once the final buzzer sounded, but the 16-time All-Star chose to keep what was said between them private:

ESPN @espn

LeBron and Zion sharing a moment postgame ✊ https://t.co/DNBMah7Q6S

Even though Williamson has lost his first two games against James, the Duke product continues to play his way into the league's record books next to the greats:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Zion Williamson is the 3rd player over the last 35 seasons with 3 30-point games within his first 15 career games, joining Allen Iverson (5) and Michael Jordan (6). https://t.co/p9IH5o9DFZ

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Zion Williamson has recorded his 6th game with 20+ points in the restricted area. That is the 2nd-most by any rookie since the NBA began tracking shot location in 1996-97. The only rookie with more is Blake Griffin (7). https://t.co/yISqmNjPSl

Williamson entered Sunday averaging 23.4 points and 6.8 rebounds across 14 starts since making his debut on Jan. 22, which was delayed by arthroscopic knee surgery on Oct. 21.

The Lakers and Pels aren't scheduled to play again this season. Fans' only shot at seeing James and Williamson on the same floor before next season is for 26-34 New Orleans to inch into the Western Conference's eighth seed.

That would set up a first-round matchup with Western Conference-leading 46-13 L.A.