Zion Williamson’s return to the basketball court after missing the entirety of last season is one of the biggest storylines in the NBA right now.
Once upon a time, the New Orleans Pelicans star was touted as a generational talent. Some still remain similarly high on him, but the enthusiasm has now been quelled in light of him playing in just 85 games over the course of three NBA seasons.
The last time Williamson did play, in 2020-21, he averaged 27 points and 7 rebounds per outing. And that was when he was noticeably overweight.
“Two years ago, Zion was a Top 5 offensive player,” an NBA executive told Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. “His case [for MVP] is pretty simple. Do that again and be better on defense, and he’s for sure a franchise guy.”
Nobody is more excited for the looming season than Williamson himself.
As first spotted by Jacob Ortiz of Legion Hoops, Williamson was recently seen wearing a shirt with a very clear message ahead of the Pelicans’ regular season opener.
The message largely speaks for itself:
— Jacob Ortiz (@jacobryanortiz) October 18, 2022
NBA fans loved it.
The reactions to Williamson’s choice of attire poured in immediately:
Love it jumpman jumpman jumpman
— jon broder (@jonbrodes) October 18, 2022
Shirt brazy https://t.co/ktReu1epmy
— Barmelo Xanthony (@Actn_jcksn) October 18, 2022
My man! https://t.co/GJup3OdxVS
— Millennial Boomer (@fancytomboy) October 18, 2022
I need that shirt https://t.co/fyJaIj3gSe
— Larry Legend (@larryislegend) October 18, 2022
Some NBA legends have their doubts about how Williamson’s new skinny frame will serve him in 2022-23. That said, the 22-year-old was bullied mercilessly when he was big, too. It’s a damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t-type situation.
This will be a defining year for Williamson. Over the past year the most notable thing he has made headlines for is his pick for Best Rapper Alive.
Yikes Russell Wilson. https://t.co/vTv0Vo8OJI
— Game 7 (@game7__) October 18, 2022
The time has come for Williamson to restore some semblance of momentum to his career. He has Hall of Fame-level potential.
Will he be able to deliver on it, though?
An answer will emerge in the coming weeks and months.