THE DEBUT: Zion Williamson looked like he was set to have a pretty forgettable debut, looking mostly tentative and passive instead of aggressive and assertive in the opening three quarters of his first career game. Then came the fourth, when Zion reminded everyone why he was last summer’s No. 1 overall pick by putting on an absolute show. Williamson scored 17 straight points midway through the fourth quarter, bringing the Pelicans all the way back from a big hole to briefly take the lead against San Antonio before Alvin Gentry was forced to pull him for the final 5:23 of the game.
The final result of the contest didn’t really matter (the Pelicans lost); what’s going to be remembered most about last night will be that it was the first time Zion took over a game and had basketball fans everywhere, from inside the Smoothie King Center to watching along on their televisions and laptops all over the world, truly captivated. The most fun part of all that? Zion’s going to do it again, possibly as soon as in his next game.
As far as where the supersized wing’s debut ranks among other super-hyped debuts, Zion’s 22-point, 7-rebound, 3-assist, 4-triple performance falls short of LeBron James’ 25/9/4 stat line in his first game, as well as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 29/12/6 debut, but those guys weren’t forced into action halfway through their rookie seasons due to injury, so Williamson deserves the benefit of the doubt a bit here.
For more on Zion’s thrilling debut, click here for the latest HoopsHype podcast, where our own Alex Kennedy and Cody Taylor break down the performance.
LATEST TRADE SCUTTLE: A slew of fresh trade rumors inundated the internet yesterday.
The Sixers are focused Kings guard Bogdan Bogdanovic and Wolves forward Robert Covington as potential trade targets. However, a report out of Sacramento says that the Kings are planning to hold onto Bogdanovic this season and will attempt to negotiate a long-term deal with him this summer.
Teams continue to show interest in Alec Burks, who’s having a very solid season for the Warriors.
Although they’ll be without Dwight Powell for the rest of the season and need another big man, the Mavericks still aren’t interested in Detroit All-Star Andre Drummond. Dallas, instead, could look towards Marcus Morris or Tristan Thompson to fill the gap.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME: We researched which teams have the strongest home-court advantages; Denver and Utah came out on top, which is probably due to the high altitudes of those cities.
MVP RANKINGS: Our MVP rankings series continues with Giannis Antetokounmpo holding steady at No. 1 and Kawhi Leonard creeping towards the top half of the list.
BIG MAN HUNTING: With Dwight Powell out for the season, the Mavs are going to need another big man. Enter Joakim Noah, who is reportedly drawing interest from Dallas. Noah last played in the NBA for the Grizzlies in 2018-19, where he averaged 7.1 points and 5.7 rebounds in under 17 minutes per game.
LET HIM FLY: Miami’s Derrick Jones Jr. is joining Dwight Howard in the 2020 dunk contest. It won’t be his first appearance in the All-Star contest, but with more experience under his belt, Jones could put on a show.
A RETURN NEAR? Jusuf Nurkic participated in a full practice yesterday for the Blazers, indicating the talented big man could be nearing a possible return. With Portland chasing the West’s final playoff spot, getting Nurkic back could prove massive.
NFL TO NBA: Arizona legend and Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is buying a minority stake in the Phoenix Suns, making him the second active NFL player to be a part-owner of an NBA team, joining Aaron Rodgers on the list.
COUNT THE MONEY: When asked if he would be willing to waive the final year of his country, which will pay him $44.2 million in 2021-22, in order to facilitate a trade to a contender, Chris Paul replied, “no chance.” Smart man.
DIFFERENT MENTALITY: Dwyane Wade says you need to be wired differently to truly thrive as a member of the Miami Heat. Jimmy Butler agrees, telling ESPN he’s loving life in South Florida, particularly the fact that he can keep things real with members of the organization without anyone taking things personally.
NO PROBLEM: Lou Williams knows Los Angeles will always be a Lakers town, and he and his Clippers teammates are perfectly fine with that. They like being the underdogs.
EURO-BOUND: The second-toughest basketball competition in the world is the Euroleague, and for the first time in his career, Amare Stoudemire will experience that first-hand. He signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv.
INSIDE-OUT: Goran Dragic used to be known as a streaky outside shooter who would punish opponents with hard drives to the basket. Now that’s entering his mid-30s, however, he’s adjusted his game to become more of a three-point marksmen, and the results have paid off wonderfully for both he and his team.
SALARY QUIZ: WHO’S THIS NBA PLAYER? 🤔
Click here for the answer.
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