Zion Williamson’s role could change drastically next season

New Orleans Pelicans, Zion Williamson (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
New Orleans Pelicans, Zion Williamson (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Zion Williamson will be trying to make a comeback for the New Orleans Pelicans next season and will be met with the third different head coach of his young career.

Zion Williamson entered the NBA as a devastating post player who was nearly impossible to stop down low, and we saw some of that in his injury-shortened rookie season, when Zion did most of his damage from the paint on post-ups and lobs from Lonzo Ball.

The next season Zion was coached by Stan Van Gundy, who made him the full-time point guard, a much-different role than many expected. It was a partial success, as Zion had his best season, but he was overused at times and the Pelicans’ offense was one of the most predictable I’ve ever watched.

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Enter coach number three, Willie Green, who preaches sharing the ball as one of his three non-negotiable rules.

So which Zion Williamson are we going to see next season, the inside force or the point guard?

New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson’s changing role

The answer to the question above is neither, as I don’t think Willie Green is going to deploy Zion in any one way.

There will be times when he is the de facto center on the court when the Pelicans go small, in which case he’ll likely be used in the post while guys like CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram initiate the offense.

I definitely don’t think we’ll see the return of a full-time Point Zion, as coach Green wants more ball movement, and the half court offense was often stagnant and predictable when Zion was the only one initiating the offense.

There’s also the fact that the Pels have a new lead guard in CJ McCollum who is going to have the ball in his hands plenty on the perimeter. They also watched the rise of Brandon Ingram last season, who took over the primary job of point forward and will also be initiating the offense.

Under Green, I think Zion’s role will be more fluid and dynamic, relying largely on matchups and situations rather than one rigid philosophy as he was in the past.

This is going to make the Pelicans really difficult to stop, as defenses aren’t going to know what to expect from possession to possession, or whether Zion will start the half court set at the top of the key, in the post, or flying along the wing.

Good luck, NBA defenses!

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