Maturation of Zion Williamson

NEW ORLEANS – According to Merriam Webster, maturity is defined as “the emergence of personal and behavioral characteristics through growth processes”. If you’ve been around the New Orleans Pelicans, Zion Williamson maturity is more evident now than ever before.

After the Pelicans beat the Clippers 112-104 on last Friday, I asked Zion about his growth process, and how has the game slowed down for him year after year. The two-time all-star responded openly, “Maturity and being in the league 5 years… The first year, the game felt fast. The second year, it started off fast then slowed down a bit. But then I missed, pretty much, two years. This year, I’ve been getting my rhythm back…The game is slowing down again.”

On a night where the game featured 2 potential Hall of Famers in the Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, healthy, Zion Williamson shined the most. He scored 34 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, added 4 assists and 3 steals. But Zion did something I haven’t seen him do since his Duke University days. He dove on the floor for a loose ball.

To most, this play looks like nothing. In the third quarter, with a 7-point lead, a basketball player trying to prevent a turnover, right? Wrong. This is so much more. This is a leader setting a precedent on the basketball floor. One of your elite players diving on the floor informs every player to know this is the standard being set.

Prime example. With 3:35 left in the 4th quarter, it was a 5-point game, and the Pelicans had the lead. During a fast break, CJ McCollum loses the handle, and the basketball squirts free. Two Clippers dive on the floor, but three Pelicans dive on the floor and retrieve the basketball. Most analytical believers will tell you, there’s no way to correlate those two actions. The basketball brain in my head tells me those two plays are directly aligned.


In the famous sports movie, Remember The Titans, there’s a classic line by the elite actor – Wood Harris. He said, “Attitude reflects leadership, captain.” Zion’s attitude and effort has been influential to his team. Zion in the last couple of months has been more explosive, and the Pelicans are 15-5 since February 1st.

Although, everyone might be enamored by his physical ability to move like a mack truck yet finish gracefully with a touch of usher on Easter Sunday, but it is the effort that’s most impressive. The multiple effort blocks. To sit in a stance and get a stop against an elite offensive player and two-time Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard. The burst of speed to catch an alley-oop from Naji Marshall at its peak. All of this takes effort. To get yourself in shape takes effort. To be responsible takes effort.

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