New Orleans Pelicans: How Zion Williamson can come back even better

Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans shoots a free throw (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans shoots a free throw (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

It seems like it has been 100 years since Zion Williamson last played meaningful basketball for the New Orleans Pelicans.

After missing all of last season, Zion is ready to return, and fans can’t wait to see him along with a revamped roster that made the playoffs last season without him.

In just his second season, Zion Williamson showed himself to be one of the most efficient offensive players to ever play the game, a dominant force in the post and in transition who feasts around the rim and was pretty much unstoppable at times.

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He scored 27 points per game without the use of the 3-point line, a real jumper or complex post move, simply out-muscling and out-jumping everyone else to get where he wants. Zion mostly dominated with his generational athleticism, but if he wants his dominance to have longevity, he is going to have to add to his game.

New Orleans Pelicans: How Zion Williamson can be even more dominant

Make more free throws

Defenses soon figured out that the only real way to stop Zion Williamson is to foul him, and even then there is a good chance he’s still going to score.

It led to a lot of hard fouls, which David Griffin blamed for one of Zion’s injuries, ranting about the refs to the media.

The only way to stop that is to knock down more free throws, so that teams are penalized when they foul. Zion attempted 8.7 free throws per game, a number that could go up as he gets more calls, but he only knocked down 61 percent of them.

Zion has a good-looking shot and there is no reason why he can’t be hitting closer to 80 percent. If he does the fouling will go down, which will make it easier for him to score and prevent some of the hard contact he is constantly taking in the lane.

Hit a few jumpers

I am definitely not someone who thinks Zion Williamson needs to be launching 3-point shots, as that would actually be helping the defense, who would much rather he launch from long range than get into the lane where he is a force of nature.

But knocking down a few mid-range jumpers from time-to-time, and being a threat as a pop man in the pick-and-roll would only further open up his dribble penetration and inside game.

We started to see this in 2020-21, when Zion started adding a little baseline hook and mid-range shot to his game. He’s shown he can knock them down, but needs to do it with a little more regularity to really make defenses have to choose their poison.

If Williamson shows he can consistently hit a 12-15 foot shot he is going to be virtually un-guardable.

As good as Zion was before he got hurt, he can add a few wrinkles to his game to come back even better for the New Orleans Pelicans.

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