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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Articles tagged: Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson to miss several weeks with knee injury at start of season

Zion Williamson

New Orleans Pelicans fans are going to have to wait a while to see first overall pick Zion Williamson make his regular-season NBA debut.

Williamson underwent further testing this week to determine the cause of soreness in his right knee that, and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski the injury is expected to keep him out for several games at the start of the regular season. Fortunately, it is not considered to be anything “severe.”

The Pelicans obviously have a ton invested in Williamson, so there is no way they want him to be anything less than 100 percent healthy before he takes the floor. He missed the majority of the Las Vegas Summer League after sustaining a bruise in his left knee, and we all remember the knee sprain he suffered at Duke after his Nike sneaker infamously exploded. While it does not sound like the latest injury is something to be alarmed about, the history is at least somewhat concerning.

Williamson has already given NBA fans a glimpse of his ability, as he averaged 23.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in the four preseason games in which he appeared. His debut will be the one of the most highly anticipated storylines of the upcoming season.

Zion Williamson says he is comfortable taking threes if left open

Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson splashed a triple during Friday’s preseason win over the Utah Jazz, and it may become a somewhat common occurrence from here.

The New Orleans Pelicans star connected on his first three of the preseason in the first quarter on a straight shot from the top of the arc.

After the game, Williamson said he would be comfortable taking that shot if defenses continued to give it to him.

“I mean, I was open so I shot it,” said the No. 1 overall pick,” per Amie Just of the New Orleans Advocate. “I think people kind of exaggerate the whole ‘can’t shoot’ thing. I’m very capable of shooting it, so if they want to leave me open, I’m gonna shoot it every time.”

With his power, touch, and athleticism, the 19-year-old is already an efficiency monster in the restricted area, so adding the threat of a three-point shot will create a major problem for NBA defenses. Williamson did shoot a fairly solid 33.8 percent from three in his one season at Duke, and he has already raved about NBA spacing and how it will open up new dimensions of his game.

Watch: Zion Williamson is literally too strong to play golf

Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson has been told he could probably have a successful career in the NFL because of his size and strength, and those qualities were on display once again on Friday. Only this time, they didn’t do the No. 1 overall pick any good.

Williamson and some other New Orleans Pelicans players hit the golf course for an event with season ticket holders and corporate sponsors, and Zion had a bit of an equipment problem while teeing off.

That’s right — the 6-foot-7, 280-pound Williamson is literally so strong that the head went flying off his iron. Not surprisingly, Charles Barkley knows exactly how that feels.

Williamson’s swing didn’t look quite as bad as Barkley’s, but the former Duke star may need to get fitted for some custom clubs if he wants to really get into golf.

Michael Avenatti alleges Nike approved payments for Zion Williamson

basketball

Attorney Michael Avenatti is once again accusing Nike executives of improper conduct, including approving illegal payments to Zion Williamson and other players.

Avenatti was arrested on March 25 and charged by federal prosecutors for attempting to extort Nike. Avenatti allegedly was threatening to hold a press conference in which he would unveil improper activities between Nike and high school/college programs unless they paid him $25 million.

Avenatti hired legal representation for the extortion case and is seeking to have the charges dismissed on grounds of vindictive and selective prosecution. His attorneys filed a motion in U.S. District Court in New York on Wednesday that included numerous allegations, according to ESPN’s Mark Schlabach.

According to the motion, Avenatti has evidence Nike executives approved cash payments to be made to handlers and family members of amateur players. The payments are often made in an effort to steer an amateur player to a college program sponsored by the shoe company. Adidas was at the center of a college basketball scandal over the past two years for this issue. Avenatti says Nike has engaged in similar practices.

Avenatti claims to have evidence showing a Nike employee was willing to make a $35,000 payment to Zion Williamson, $20,000 for Romeo Langford, and $15,000 for another player. Williamson played his freshman season at Duke, which is a Nike-sponsored school, while Langford went to Indiana, an Adidas school.

Avenatti claims to have gained the evidence and information through former amateur coach Gary Franklin. Franklin coached the California Supreme, a Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) team. Franklin alleges Nike tried to funnel payments through him intended for the handlers and/or family of several players on his teams, such as Deandre Ayton. Franklin retained Avenatti’s services after claiming to have been forced out by Nike once he no longer felt comfortable going along with their scheme.

In April, Avenatti also accused Nike of making payments to the mother of Williamson, who ended up going No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft.

Zion Williamson’s presence nets Pelicans 20 nationally televised games

Zion Williamson

It’s fair to say that despite the presence of Anthony Davis, the New Orleans Pelicans have not been a national TV staple in recent NBA seasons. That will change with a vengeance in 2019-20.

The NBA’s schedule release Monday revealed that the Pelicans will have 20 nationally televised games between ESPN, TNT, and ABC. Their two ABC games will be their first on that network since 2009, while three of their first five games will be shown to a national audience.

This is unprecedented for the Pelicans, and numbers like that would be more associated with big-name NBA franchises like the Los Angeles Lakers or Golden State Warriors. It’s pretty much all down to Williamson, but it’s worth remembering the young players the franchise has acquired to complement him who are excited to get a taste of playing with him.

Zion Williamson on RJ Barrett: Knicks are ‘getting a killer’

RJ Barrett

Zion Williamson continues to speak highly of college teammate RJ Barrett.

Williamson was at the Panini NBA Rookie Photo Shoot on Sunday and was asked by SNY’s Ian Begley about Barrett. Williamson described his fellow lottery pick as a “killer.”

“(Knicks fans) can expect that they’re getting a killer,” Williamson told SNY. “For the people that are trying to look down on him, RJ’s been through worse. He knows how to battle through it and he’s going to bring the city everything he’s got.”

Williamson and Barrett were close friends during their time together at Duke. The two entered college as highly-regarded recruits. They left with Williamson viewed as the best player in college basketball and runaway favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the draft, which he became. Barrett had a fine season but didn’t quite live up to his billing as a freshman. He still was picked No. 3 overall by the Knicks, who are hoping he will become the game-changer they have lacked.

New York had a quiet offseason. They failed to land Kevin Durant as they were hoping (or not hoping?) and ended up making several under-the-radar signings such as Julius Randle, Bobby Portis and Marcus Morris.

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.