What did Pelicans star CJ McCollum say about his relationship with injured teammate Zion Williamson
With the Pelicans star having been out for a while, it’s only obvious that we appreciate any news we can get about when he might return to the court.
If we can say one thing about the New Orleans Pelicans, it’s that they have been absolutely impressive in the long-term absence of their star. Indeed, the former No. 1 overall pick has hardly played in the last two seasons and continues to rehab.
Pelicans’ CJ McCollum opens up about Zion Williamson
Zion Williamson is perhaps one of the best examples of how cruel professional sports can be. On the one hand, we’ve got a product of one of the country’s most prestigious basketball programs and one who possesses incomparable physical attributes. On the other, we’ve got a young talent who has been the victim of repeated and long-term injuries. That’s to say nothing of the effect that his prolonged absence has had on the team that selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the New Orleans Pelicans.
To that end, it was interesting to say the least to have some fresh insight into where Williamson is at right now, from none other than his teammate and 2016 NBA Most Improved Player, CJ McCollum. Speaking recently on the latest episode of the Ryan Russillo podcast, McCollum opened up about his relationship with Williamson. Indeed, McCollum explained that he and other veterans of the team have had “serious conversations with him (Zion) on multiple occasions” about he needs to do in order to get the most out of the obviously unreal skillset that he possesses. “I think one of the things he respects about me most is that I’m honest, I’m blunt, and I’ve never said anything to the public that I haven’t said behind closed doors to him directly,” McCollum told Russillo. The Pelicans guard then added another intriguing tid bit. “I’ve told him you can be as good as you want to be, and that’s not for everybody. ...The level of Z is a level not everyone can get to.”
The Road to Zion: CJ McCollum explains what he thinks of Zion Williamson
As he continued to give further detail about the relationship he has with Williamson, McCollum also revealed that not only is his locker next to Williamson’s in the locker room, but they also sit together on the team plane when they travel. To that end, the pair have had more than enough opportunity to speak about Williamson’s health and conditioning, something which to date has been the proverbial Achilles heal for the 22-year-old who appears to be nothing short of a prodigy.
To be clear, in the 114 games that Williamson has managed to play since 2019′s Draft, he has averaged 25.8 points, seven rebounds, and shot 60.5% from the field. There have also been two All-Star game appearances during that time just for good measure. Yet, to hear McCollum tell it, these stats and acknowledgements are par for the course when considering what Williamson is really capable of. “There are stars in this league, and there are planets,” McCollum stated about the NBA. “(Nikola) Jokic. Planet. Steph Curry. Planet...You (Zion) are a planet. You have to move like a planet...Your ceiling is unlike anything the game has ever seen.”
Where is Zion Williamson at right now?
If we go back to the start of this article, you will recall the cruelty of sport to which I referred. That’s what Williamson had to face up to this past season, after beginning the campaign in probably the best condition of his brief career so far. Having worked with trainer Jasper Biggs on his conditioning and weight, the hopes were high for Williamson when the season tipped off. Sadly, a hamstring injury in January brought that to an end. At this point, we can only take him at his word i.e., he’s since said he feels fine but not quite like himself. As for the rest of it, we can only sit, wait, watch and hope.