The odyssey of Zion Williamson
Source: Getty Images

Already in high school he began to stand out and make a name for himself nationally through the videos with his best plays that went viral at that time. During that stage he achieved several individual awards that resulted in numerous offers from different universities such as Clemson, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, etc. He even received an offer to play soccer at LSU, Louisiana State University. Finally, he committed to the blue devils of Duke University.

College career

In his only season in college he averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 2.1 steals, and 1.8 blocks, in 33 games played.

On February 20, 2019, he suffered a Grade 1 knee sprain after his foot went through the sneaker he was playing in. Nike, the sneaker brand Williamson was wearing at the time, saw its stock market value drop 1.1 billion the day after the event.

El pie izquierdo de Zion atraviesa la zapatilla produciéndole una lesión en la rodilla. Fuente: Getty Images
Zion's left foot goes through the sneaker causing him to injure his knee. Source: Getty Images

Zion did not play in any of the six remaining regular season games and his collegiate stint ended on March 31 when they lost in the regional final to Michigan State, in a game in which he managed to score 24 points; grab 14 rebounds, 7 of them offensive; steal 3 balls; and block 3 others.

Williamson was named ACC player of the year and best freshman of the conference. In addition, he was included in the best defensive quintet and in the best freshman quintet of the ACC. Finally, Sporting News named him player of the year and best rookie. The next step would be the NBA draft.

Fuente: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Arrival in the NBA

The New Orleans Pelicans were in charge of selecting him in the first position of the draft. From the beginning, the expectations and the desire to see this player on the NBA courts were huge.

Fuente: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

The first thing that came as a surprise upon his arrival was his weight and height. At 1.98 meters, his weight was 129 kilograms. This set off the alarms of many, who warned of the problems he could suffer, especially at the level of the joints of the lower body, due to the excess weight and his style of play, which stood out for a great jumping power and explosiveness towards the hoop. And they weren't wrong.

On October 13, 2019, just before the start of the season, he underwent surgery because of a torn meniscus. This injury was not caused by a bad move or a bad fall, but was the result of excess weight, which progressively wore down his cartilage.

On January 22, 2020, Zion made his NBA debut in a game they lost to the San Antonio Spurs. His numbers that night were: 22 PTS, 7 REB, 3 AST, and 4 of 4 in three pointers, in 18 minutes.

At the end of that season he was included in the best rookie five, averaging 22.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists.

First seasons marked by injuries

The following season, the 20/21, was his best numerically and in terms of games so far. In 61 games played, his averages were 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists, in addition to being chosen for the first time to play in the "All-Star game". However, bad luck struck again against Zion. Due to a fracture in one of his fingers, the Pelicans announced on May 8 that he would not play any of the remaining games.

Fuente: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

During the summer of 2021, he suffered a fractured foot for which he had to undergo surgery in September, looking ahead to the start of the season. Nothing could be further from the truth. The young power forward was unable to play a single game in 21/22.

On July 1, 2022, he signed his renewal with the New Orleans franchise for 5 years and a total of $231 million.

The 2022/23 seemed to be the season in which he could finally redeem himself from his past. He played 29 of the first 37 games, averaging 26.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1.1 steals, and was chosen to play in the All-Star game for the second time in his career, a game he never got to play in. On January 2, 2023, he suffered a hamstring injury that kept him sidelined for the rest of the season.

Fast forward to the 2023/24 season, Zion's fifth in the NBA. After 4 difficult years, Zion has played 54 of the 65 games the Pelicans have played so far, averaging 22.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.1 assists. His team is fifth in the West standings, and his connection with Brandon Ingram, the team's second-best player, is at its best. That is why there are high hopes for this team for the playoffs and, especially, for the next few years.

That Zion is playing at a high level and has found consistency and constancy is great news for the Pelicans, for the league, and for the fans, but especially for Zion himself, a player who was destined to make a mark in the league and who, due to injuries, has not yet been able to show his full potential.