Zion Williamson Has Finally Arrived

Minnesota Timberwolves v New Orleans Pelicans
Minnesota Timberwolves v New Orleans Pelicans / Sean Gardner/GettyImages

We've been waiting three years for a new beast to emerge in the NBA. We were promised something we'd never seen before. A dominance in a style heretofore unseen on a basketball court. Well, ladies and gentlemen, we may have it. Zion Williamson is finally healthy and dominating everyone who steps in his way.

The 22-year-old missed the entire 2021-22 season recovering from a foot fracture. He gained weight, looked terribly out of shape and some questioned if he'd ever play meaningful minutes again. They were wrong. Not only is Williamson back, he's become an absolutely force of nature.

Through 26 games, Zion is averaging 25.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.2 steals in a career-high 33.4 minutes per game. He's also posting a career-best true shooting percentage of 65.1, with a PER of 26.35. And he's gotten better every month.

In December, Williamson is averaging 30.2 points, 7.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.2 steals in 36.2 minutes per game. He's shooting 62.7 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from the 3-point line. On Wednesday night, he set a career-high of 43 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The versatility in his game is mind-boggling. He's 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds. As you'd expect, he bullies opponents to get to where he wants on the floor. But he also possesses otherworldly athleticism, quickness and incredible touch around the rim. We've never seen anyone do the things he's doing at his size.

Most importantly, Zion is leading the New Orleans Pelicans to wins. The Pels currently own the top spot in the Western conference. Along with Brandon Ingram (20.8 ppg) and CJ McCollum (19.4 ppg), Williamson is the centerpiece of a dangerous squad with designs on becoming an NBA title contender.

This is what we expected when Williamson was anointed as a future No. 1 pick during his senior year in high school. When every Duke game wound up in ESPN with announcers gushing about what he could do, we expected a payoff. Yes, he actually put up bigger numbers during the 2020-21 season, but it still felt unsustainable. What we're seeing from him now feels real. It's tangible dominance with actual stakes attached.

The NBA's new monster has finally arrived on the scene. And he's living up to the hype that preceded him.