Pelicans’ Zion Williamson on approaching NBA season: ‘This is what the dream was all about’

“It’s a fun process. I’m 19. Like two years ago I was a senior in high school and now I’m sitting here,” Williamson said.

NBA training camp for the upcoming 2019-20 season will begin Oct. 1, and not many are as fired up about it as Pelicans’ Zion Williamson.

The No.1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft spoke with reporters at Media Day on Monday about his impending rookie campaign.

“I’m very excited. This is what the dream was all about,” Williamson said. “Making it to the league and having an impact. And the impact starts tomorrow.

“It’s a fun process. I’m 19. Like two years ago I was a senior in high school and now I’m sitting here. So I think about stuff like that. It’s a blessing to be here.”

Williamson knows a thing or two about being impactful. He averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.8 blocks per game in his lone season at Duke last year — racking up plenty of hardware for his individual performance.

However, he knows the NBA is a different beast in terms of competition, but Williamson is confident he’s in an environment where he can thrive.

“Drew Brees said it best. If you love the city, It’ll love you right back,” Williamson said when discussing his feelings about New Orleans. “It’s great. I know I’m in the right place with Jrue (Holiday) and JJ (Redick), and E’Twaun Moore. Since I’ve been here they’ve been giving me great advice. Whenever they think I’m overthinking things or seem stressed they’ll be the first ones to come to be and just say ‘Relax, be you. Just play the game you love.’ And it’s the small things like that that help a lot, and I just get going.”

Even with all of the hype surrounding Williamson, he remains focused on staying humble, despite being named the NBA’s 42nd best player in ESPN’s annual rankings.

“If I focused on stuff like that I feel like that would be very selfish of me,” Williamson said ESPN’s list. “I think we all have the same goal in mind. That’s to make the playoffs and make a run.”

New Orleans finished 2018-19 with a 33-49 record and missed the postseason after placing 13th in the Western Conference.

It traded away its franchise player in Anthony Davis over the offseason but got a plethora of promising young talent in return, including Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram.

The Pelicans’ mix of seasoned veterans, young prospects, a hopeful fanbase, and a centerpiece eager to absorb knowledge could make for an interesting year.

“I want all the advice I can get because everybody has different perspectives,” Williamson said. “If I can get advice from multiple perspectives I can find a way to bring it together and find out what’s best for me.”

 

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