CJ McCollum Backs Zion Williamson: ‘Leave the Young Fella Alone’

Zion Williamson made headlines earlier this week when new teammate CJ McCollum told reporters that he had yet to speak to Williamson since being traded to the New Orleans Pelicans.

McCollum spoke again on Thursday after practice to defend his new teammate, saying Williamson is just taking time to rehab and that people need to “Leave the young fella alone.”

McCollum is a new arrival in New Orleans, getting sent south by the Portland Trail Blazers at the NBA’s trade deadline. The trade was a big one, as Larry Nance Jr. and Tony Snell joined McCollum in New Orleans. The Pelicans sent back Josh Hart, Tomas Satoransky, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Didi Louzada, a 2022 first-round pick, and two future second-round picks.

Since joining the Pelicans, McCollum has put up tough numbers, averaging 28.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game in his first five outings for New Orleans. McCollum spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Blazers, putting up 19.0 points and 3.4 assists per game over his career.

Williamson has yet to join McCollum on the court, as he has spent the season out injured, recovering from a foot injury suffered during the preseason. In his brief appearances for New Orleans thus far, Williamson has been dynamic, averaging 25.7 points, 7.0 boards, and 3.2 dimes per game to go along with an All-Star appearance last season.

The Pelicans will need him back soon, too, as they make a final push for a play-in spot. New Orleans sits at 12th in the Western Conference with a 23-36 record.