Zion Williamson looked ‘amazing’ and ‘dominated’ team scrimmage, says New Orleans Pelicans coach Willie Green

METAIRIE, La. – The New Orleans Pelicans opened training camp Tuesday with two drills, a morning session followed by one in the evening.

The morning session was intentionally lighter. The evening session had a scrimmage portion in what would be the first intense 5-on-5 work for Zion Williamson with the team since May 2020.

One would expect someone to have some rust in this situation, but Williamson isn’t just anyone.

“Z looked fantastic,” said Pelicans coach Willie Green on Wednesday afternoon. “His strength, his speed. He pretty much dominated the scrimmage.”

Williamson told reporters on Tuesday that he’s looking forward to the 5-on-5 practice because as much as he can train in the offseason, it’s difficult to simulate 5-on-5 work against highly talented players.

“What really stood out was his strength,” Green said. “He got down quickly. Once he caught the ball, he made quick decisions. Whether it was to score a goal, to find a team-mate. It was really impressive to see.”

Williamson’s teammates said he made full use of the work he could do.

“He looks like Z,” said Pelicans forward Larry Nance. “The guy hasn’t played basketball in over 500 days. It’s not that none of us expect that right away, but shoot, I’ve got to be honest with you, the guy looks good. It will take some time for everyone to get used to him. It will take time for him to get used to everyone but it’s hard not to be impressed.”

Nance said he spoke to Williamson in the dressing room afterward and asked him if he noticed he hadn’t missed a shot. Williamson told him he hadn’t even thought about it.

“He looks like the wrecking ball we all know and love,” Nance said. “Very pleased, to say the least.”

Green said the Pelicans used their planned starting lineup mostly in scrimmages last night – Williamson, CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram, Herb Jones and Jonas Valanciunas – but will change things on Wednesday night when they return to the ground for a second straight season rate of two per day.

While Nance has previously played against Williamson and Green has coached against Williamson, the Pelicans have several players who have not had a chance to play with Williamson since he was injured all of last season.

Trey Murphy and Jose Alvarado, part of last year’s rookie class with Jones, got their first real look at Williamson on court.

“Strong. Very strong. And ready to play too,” Murphy said when asked how Williamson looked. “I will say that. That’s all I have to say.”

Alvarado said it doesn’t look like Williamson wasted much time.

“I think Z is such a special player,” said Alvarado. “But a player we can adapt to. He doesn’t need the ball right away. He’ll find his way. He’s adapted really well. It looked like he’d been playing with us for a while.”

https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/34685314/zion-williamson-looked-amazing-dominated-team-scrimmage-says-new-orleans-pelicans-coach-willie-green Zion Williamson looked ‘amazing’ and ‘dominated’ team scrimmage, says New Orleans Pelicans coach Willie Green

Emma Bowman

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