Mavericks HC Rick Carlisle: Watching Zion Williamson 'A Breathtaking Experience'

Megan ArmstrongSenior Analyst IMarch 5, 2020

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - MARCH 03: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans reacts during a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Smoothie King Center on March 03, 2020 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. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

It's easy to forget that Zion Williamson has only played in 16 NBA games prior to the New Orleans Pelicans' matchup against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night.

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle joined the throngs of people already significantly impressed by the 19-year-old rookie top overall pick prior to the game's tipoff at Dallas' American Airlines Center.

"His level of force and efficiency is just unprecedented for a player of that age," Carlisle said, per ESPN's Tim MacMahon. "Watching him is a breathtaking experience."

The Mavs have already played the Pels twice this season—both wins and both in early December—but Williamson was still recovering from an Oct. 21 arthroscopic knee surgery that kept him sidelined until Jan. 22.

Williamson has scored at least 20 points in 12 consecutive games, and he is the first teenager in league history to accomplish that.

The Duke product bucketed a career-high 35 points in New Orleans' 112-114 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night—his third 30-point game since debuting—further jotting his name down in NBA history while doing so:

StatMuse @statmuse

Zion vs Lakers tonight: 35 PTS (career-high) 7 REB 12-16 FG He ties Carmelo Anthony for the most points scored vs the Lakers by a teenager. He also becomes the first rookie with 35 PTS on 75 FG% since Blake Griffin in 2011. https://t.co/LmkMi7spxY

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 will play against reigning Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic for the first time Wednesday, and the 21-year-old 2018 third overall pick has been busy making history of his own this season:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Luka Doncic has 21 career triple-doubles, tying Jason Kidd's franchise record. Kidd had 21 triple-doubles in 500 games with the Mavericks (4.2%), compared to Doncic who has 21 triple-doubles in 119 games (17.6%). https://t.co/trxME349bI

The 26-35 Pelicans are going to need even more out of Williamson if they're going to catch the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference playoff race. Head coach Alvin Gentry confirmed earlier Wednesday that the team plans to let their young franchise player play in back-to-backs while the medical team monitors him.

Williamson is averaging 24.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists on 58.8 percent shooting from the field.