Zion Williamson has long been a noteworthy name in basketball circles. Videos of him slamming home dunks were going viral before he was even able to vote. The Duke product is preparing to enter his third NBA season and has seen progression through his first two years in the league.
Last year, Zion posted 27 points per game while adding over 7 rebounds and nearly 4 assists per game as well. He has become the main man in New Orleans and looks poised for an even better 2021-2022 campaign.
A Change in Leadership
The Pelicans have a new head coach in Willie Green. Green was successful as the Phoenix Suns assistant coach and will look to lead the Pelicans to a successful season. He played a major role for Phoenix in helping the defensive players and the development of young talent.
Former head coach Stan Van Gundy was fired after just one season in New Orleans. According to a report from The Athletic’s Sam Amick, there was tension between the players and Van Gundy.
Williamson projects to excel under a new head coach who is known for getting the most out of his young players. And although Williamson is already a big name in the league, he is still extremely young at just 21 years of age.
The Pelicans have added more perimeter shooting with players such as Devonte Graham and Trey Murphy III. With defenses also having to worry about Brandon Ingram, this should allow Williamson to have plenty of room to work on the offensive end. While defenses will still place their main focus on him, they will have other factors to worry about as well.
Given that Zion had a great campaign a season ago with less talented pieces around him, he should be able to dominate with the Pelicans’ upgrades. Not only should he see an uptick in scoring output, but also in assist and rebound numbers.
Will Zion Win the MVP?
Entering year number 3 in the NBA, Zion will have his best chance yet to win his first MVP. Yes, there are plenty of other stars around the league who will make their own cases for the award, but Zion has always had one of the highest ceilings of any player and his superstar ability will place him firmly in the conversation.
We know he has the offensive capabilities, but it will be interesting to see how defense looks this year. He is freakishly athletic so if he is willing to put in the work, Zion could end up being a star defensive player which would be highly beneficial for his MVP chances. Having Willie Green as the head coach will help in that department as well.
If the Pelicans can make a playoff run, that will also strengthen his case. The Pelicans look like a much improved unit and with Zion leading the way, the future is very bright in New Orleans. I’m sure Pelicans fans would love an MVP season for their best player and a playoff berth for their hometown team.