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Zion Williamson: 'My Body Wasn't Able to Do Certain Things' During Rookie Season

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IDecember 11, 2020

FILE - In this March 6, 2020, file photo, New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson walks onto the court during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat in New Orleans. The rookie sensation’s availability to play remained unclear as the season’s resumption in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, approached. He left the NBA’s so-called “bubble” setup on July 16 to attend to an unspecified family medical matter. A week later, the club had yet to provide an update on his possible return.  (AP Photo/Rusty Costanza, File)
Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson believes he's finally able to fully showcase his talents on the court. 

"I rely on instincts and IQ," Williamson told reporters Friday. "Last year, I could only rely on IQ and my body wasn't able to do certain things. Now I have both of them again. I think it's going to be a big difference."

That should be trouble for Pels opponents this year considering the Duke product averaged 22.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in 27.8 minutes a night. 

Williamson will get his first chance to prove his words Monday when New Orleans opens the preseason against the Miami Heat

The No. 1 overall pick last year was only able to show off in short spurts. 

He tore his meniscus during the preseason and wouldn't get into a regular-season contest until three months later. When he did return from injury, the Pelicans were consciously easing him into the rotation and placed him on a minutes restriction. 

The situation was frustrating at times for both Williamson and Pelicans fans, especially with New Orleans fighting for a postseason berth, but the franchise wasn't willing to risk one of its star players in a season where just reaching the playoffs was considered exceeding expectations. 

Now, the Pelicans will see if their choice paid off. 

With Stan Van Gundy taking over as head coach and Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams joining the roster, New Orleans can begin raising the bar for itself.

That means increased expectations for Williamson as well. Given what Van Gundy has said about the sophomore during training camp, there may not be a limit for what he can do.

"He is an unbelievable playmaker for a guy at his size," Van Gundy said. "He's a guy who can take the ball off the glass and lead the break and make plays. He can make passes off the dribble. He can finish over bigger people inside. He's a multi-talented guy. I don't look at him in any way as far as is he a four or a five. I'm not sure those labels matter when it comes to him." 

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