CJ McCollum Has ‘Never Seen Anything’ Quite Like Zion Williamson’s Career-High 43-Point Outing
Zion Williamson is uniquely dominant because it’s hard to name a player with a similar game. His physical prowess is identical to the incredible displays of Michael Jordan, and LeBron James are known for. But his ability to handle the rock, attack the rim, and make plays for others is unlike any other player in the history of the League.
Those abilities and the opposing defenses’ inability to keep him in front of them led to Williamson scoring 40 points for the first time during his three-year career. Furthermore, Williamson has a distinctive playstyle where he goes through or around defenders on his way to the rim with his incredible combination of size, strength, quickness, explosion, touch, and body control.
Simply put, Williamson is more likely to wear your ass out and break you down for 48 minutes than play like Kyrie Irving and finesse his way to the rim. Case in point, Williamson attempted 20 of his 21 shots in the paint, and only two came from outside of the restricted area. And that came against three-time Defensive Player of the Year and Timberwolves defensive anchor Rudy Gobert guarding the rim.
On Wednesday, all those unique qualities came together to help Williamson post a career-high 43 points on 14-21 shooting from the field, including 33 in the second half, as he showed off that he can close games out in high-pressure moments. He also went 14-19 from the free-throw line and contributed five assists to help New Orleans beat Minnesota 119-118.
“I’ve never seen anything like him. I’ve played with different types of players – scorers and guys who score in a variety of ways. But never someone who’s so paint-dominant,” teammate CJ McCollum said, per The Athletic. “Everything is predicated on drives to the paint. … the ability to make the right plays and be able to handle and move the way he does. The fluidity in his movements, but also the body control on the jumps. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that. I don’t think we will.”
Career night. Special moment for Z. (via @PelicansNBA) pic.twitter.com/NoG1XD6EmK— SLAM (@SLAMonline) December 29, 2022
Williamson’s playstyle has helped New Orleans (22-12) take the top spot in the Western Conference. It’s a developing spot that matters a great deal to Williamson. The one-time All-Star is focused on winning and knows fans and media will “remember winners.”
“People remember winners,” the 22-year-old Williamson said, per ESPN. “When you look at some of the greatest of all time, the first thing you go to is championships, what they did in big moments.
Williamson also added that teammate McCollum urged Williamson to take over in the fourth quarter. And the former Duke Blue Devil took that advice and ran with it as head coach Wille Green told the Pelicans to “get the ball to Z and get the f— out of the way,” according to McCollum. Williamson scored 14 points over the final three minutes of the game.
43 last night. Most points Zion has scored so far. pic.twitter.com/FyEYdlLKuQ— SLAM Kicks (@SLAMKicks) December 29, 2022
He’s a relentless player that doesn’t take his foot off the pedal, especially when attacking the paint. Williamson doesn’t settle for jumpers; among his 422 shot attempts, 396 of them have been in the paint. That constant aggressiveness helped Williamson average 30.2 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game in December.
New Orleans can build on their West-leading schedule when they play the 76ers on Friday.