Zion Williamson’s “NBA ready body” on full display in Pelicans’ 128-127 win over Utah Jazz

Zion Williamson came into the league as a once-in-a-generation prospect. Not just because of his talent, skills, and highlight-worthy tomahawk dunks, but the fact that he’s able to carry the body of football player through the air with grace, control and balance. And he apparently hasn’t stopped growing.

That NBA ready body was on full-display last night as the electrifying prospect attacked the basket, absorbed contact and was still able to score over the likes of NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, Royce O’Neale, Joe Ingles and an array of Jazz defenders. He finished the win with a game-high 26 points in approximately 23 minutes and shooting an efficient 9-of-12 from the field.

No doubt that Gobert was more than aware of the rookie coming into the game, so the 7-2 Stifle Tower was defending the rim even more vigilantly. That didn’t stop Zion from doing what Zion does. The second Pelicans basket came off a Brandon Ingram missed three where Williamson tussled with O’Neale, snatched the offensive rebound and laid it up over both O’Neal and Gobert.

His next basket was the 19-year old’s first three point basket as he casually stroked a three-pointer from the top of the arc. Later on in the first half, he received a pass in the paint, protected the ball, elevated and converted a left handed shot over the outstretched arms of Gobert.

“You gotta give him respect, two-time Defensive Player of the Year,” Williamson said. “Just gotta go in there strong and try to finish.”

And he did again in the second half when he drove the lane, exploded past Gobert and scored on another left hand layup to bring the Pelicans within two points, 75-73.

The highlight of the night, what Pelicans fans were waiting for, came just a few plays later. Zion took a pass from Josh Hart, avoided Ingles, took off from the inside the free throw line circle, missing a runner in the lane over Gobert, but the way the ball came off the rim and his own momentum allowed him to not only allowed him go up again, but grab the rebound in midair and throw it down in one motion.

Zion got more aggressive in the fourth quarter when he was defended by Jazz reserves in the fourth quarter. In particular, he took advantage of Ed Davis twice as he banked in what is quickly becoming his signature move — double-clutch layups – and was fouled on both. Later on he drove by Tony Bradley for an easy layup then got to the rim for another and one layup vs. Jazz reserve forward William Howard.

After converting one of his many physical double-clutch layups over Ed Davis, Williamson smiled and flexed his NBA-ready body. This may only be the preseason, but Zion is looking he’s more than ready for the regular reason.

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