Pelicans star Zion Williamson is ready to continue his impressive rookie season when the NBA resumes in Orlando this month, explaining his thoughts on the team’s mindset in a media availability posted on NBA.com.
“That’s a simple answer – we’re trying to make a playoff push, and we’re trying to get back into our full game condition within those eight [seeding] games,” Williamson said.
Williamson played just 19 games before the NBA suspended its season in mid-March, averaging 23.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 29.7 minutes per contest. He’s since taken a leadership role with the club, recognizing the importance of being successful both on the court and off.
“I’m preparing by bonding with my teammates once again,” Williamson said. “Talking to them, saying ‘We’re going to get through this,’ and we’re just going to battle the [mental challenges surrounding this]. As far as me also getting ready for that, it’s just conditioning and honing my skills.”
New Orleans is tied for the 10th best record in the Western Conference with Sacramento at 28-36, trailing the No. 8 seed Grizzlies by 3.5 games. The team’s first game in Orlando will commence on July 30 against Utah.
Here are some other notes from the Southwest Division today:
- Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis is confident the team can surprise people during the NBA’s resumed season, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News writes. Porzingis is holding per-game averages of 19.2 points and 9.5 rebounds after taking a full year off to rehab from a torn ACL.
- Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News explores how the Spurs are mentally preparing themselves for the rest of the season. San Antonio owns the third-worst record of all 22 teams heading to Orlando, going 27-36 through 63 games on the season. “I think we’re all aware of the risk [of resuming play],” Spurs center Jakob Poeltl said. “Everybody individually had to really think about the situation. From what I’m hearing, the NBA is going above and beyond to create the safest possible environment for us. I’m hearing that possibly it’s going to be safer for us to be in that bubble than maybe even being at home. But it’s definitely still a risk.”
- Pelicans forward Darius Miller is unsure if he’ll be able to play in Orlando due to COVID-19, Will Guillory of The Athletic tweets. Miller has been unable to play 3-on-3 or 5-on-5 due to the virus. He suffered an Achilles tear in the summer of 2019, last appearing in an NBA game during the 2018/19 season.