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Saturday, October 19, 2019

Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson to compete with Drew Brees in Saints QB challenge

Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson has the type of build that makes people think he could excel playing in the NFL, but you might be surprised to learn how far he can throw a football. We’ll find out how far that is, exactly, when he goes head-to-head with Drew Brees.

Over the weekend, New Orleans Pelicans vice president of basketball operations David Griffin told Jeff Duncan of The Athletic that Williamson can throw a football 65 yards. Brees wants to see that in action, so he challenged Williamson to compete in the Saints QB Challenge. The No. 1 overall pick accepted.

Brees and the Saints have gone out of their way to welcome Williamson to New Orleans, with the Pro Bowl quarterback signing a jersey for him with a great message and Saints head coach Sean Payton recruiting the 19-year-old to change sports. Now, they’ll get a real chance to see what he can do.

Given how strong he is, we would not be surprised if Williamson can throw a football more than half the length of a field. But can he put it between the numbers like Brees? If so, the 40-year-old may want to watch his back.

Report: Zion Williamson made millions more from Nike due to shoe malfunction

Zion Williamson shoe

A malfunction with a pair of sneakers made by Nike may have cost Zion Williamson some time during the college basketball season earlier this year, but it sounds like it actually turned out to be a good thing for the former Duke star.

Williamson announced on Tuesday that he has signed an endorsement deal with Jordan Brand, which is of course owned by Nike. While the terms of the deal were not initially known, Darren Rovell of The Action Network reports that Williamson blowing out his shoe on national TV “made the stakes of landing Zion that much greater.” Rovell estimates that Williamson made millions more on his endorsement deal because the embarrassing sneaker malfunction made Nike that much more desperate to sign him.

Williamson suffered what initially looked like a serious injury in Duke’s game against rival North Carolina back in March when his shoe literally fell apart during play. It was a public relations nightmare for Nike, which sponsors Duke and produces their athletic gear.

As many as seven shoe companies expressed interest in signing Williamson before he was drafted No. 1 overall by the New Orleans Pelicans, and some wondered if the blown out shoe would impact his decision. He fueled that buzz when he was spotted wearing a different brand a few months back, but in the end it sounds like the deal worked out for everyone.

Kendrick Perkins warns Zion Williamson to avoid New Orleans food

Zion Williamson

One of the concerns surrounding Zion Williamson now that his NBA career has begun is his weight, and Kendrick Perkins thinks the former Duke star will have to work extra hard to avoid culinary temptations in New Orleans.

Perkins, who spent a season with the Pelicans, said there are going to be people in New Orleans offering Williamson good eats everywhere he goes. The retired big man said the Pelicans better lock Zion away if they want to keep him in shape.

Williamson is listed at 285 pounds, which is heavy for a player who is about 6-foot-6. Most of that has to do with his incredible strength, but he suffered a knee injury in his first Summer League game and also got hurt during the NCAA Tournament back in March, though that injury was more of a fluke. The Summer League injury was the result of knee-to-knee contact, so it’s hard to argue that either had to do with Williamson’s size.

Like any other star player, Williamson will have to keep an eye on his weight and conditioning. While his strength is an asset, he can’t let one too many bowls of gumbo turn his impressive stature into a liability.

Lonzo Ball calls Zion Williamson a ‘freak’

Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball seems pretty excited to play with Zion Williamson.

Ball was full of praise for his New Orleans Pelicans teammate on Saturday, describing him as a “freak” and raving about his mobility.

“Man, I’ve never seen somebody that size move like him,” Ball told ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “… He’s only 19, right? He’s definitely a freak. I’ve never seen nothing like it.

“Honestly, you just got to run the lane, set screens and roll. With his game and with him getting a full head of steam, it’s going to be very tough to stop him. So I think we play fast and get out on the break as soon as possible.”

Ball has already thought about how to best bring out Williamson’s talents, which is a good sign. It seems he has a much higher opinion of his new teammate than his father does, which is really all that will matter to the Pelicans.

Zion Williamson leaves Summer League debut after contact to knee

Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson was forced to leave his NBA Summer League debut after suffering what appears to be a minor injury.

Williamson’s much-anticipated debut on Friday didn’t last as long as many in Las Vegas had hoped. The Pelicans announced during the second half that Williamson would be out for the remainder of the game after taking knee-to-knee contact.

Williamson finished the game with 11 points, three rebounds, and one steal that led to a thunderous dunk and flex.

Watch: Zion Williamson, Anthony Davis hug in meeting of Pelicans icons

Anthony Davis

The past and future of the New Orleans Pelicans embraced prior to Zion Williamson’s first exhibition game as a professional.

The Las Vegas Summer League is the NBA’s premier summer league competition. It’s a showcase for the league’s recent draft picks that is often attended by some of the NBA’s biggest stars.

On Friday, the Pelicans faced off against the New York Knicks and No. 3 overall pick R.J. Barrett. Prior to the game, Barrett’s college teammate and No. 1 overall selection Zion Williamson met and embraced former Pelicans star Anthony Davis, who has been traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.

With Davis’ tenure in New Orleans over, it’s time for Williamson to begin building his legacy in the place Davis used to call home. Williamson’s summer league debut comes with as much hype as we’ve seen in recent years. There’s little reason to think he won’t put on a show from Day 1.

Pelicans reveal planned summer league workload for Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson

NBA fans will get a pretty good look at Zion Williamson when the New Orleans Pelicans take part in NBA Summer League action.

According to Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry, Williamson will likely play 24-28 minutes in the team’s summer league opener against the New York Knicks.

While the summer league isn’t always a great representation of the competition rookies will be facing once the season starts, it is still an NBA philosophy and style of play. Williamson himself is very eager to embrace that style of play, so Friday’s opener will be good for him from that standpoint.

This is also great news for those who will be in attendance for the summer league opener, considering how much money people have been shelling out for a glimpse at Williamson.