Zion Williamson probably had a lot of us worried through three quarters in his NBA debut vs. the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday. The New Orleans Pelicans rookie phenom had a mostly quiet debut entering the fourth quarter with five points and a few rebounds. He had looked off for most of the game ... and then everything changed. Zion nailed a 3-pointer and the floodgates opened BIG TIME. Williamson went on to score 17 straight points, draining 4-of-4 from downtown to finish with 22 points and seven rebounds in just 18 minutes. It’s a moment all of us will remember till the end of time.
Well, we’re moving on to Game 2 of the Zion era for the Pelicans, Friday night against the Denver Nuggets in NOLA. Here we’ll get you ready for Williamson’s second game and what to expect, plus track his stats later on tonight.
Recap for Zion Williamson in second game vs. Nuggets
Update, 10:09 p.m. — Zion got up to 21 minutes but didn’t do much in the fourth quarter and should finish with 15 points and six boards. He also added one steal and one block with just one turnover for 26.0 fantasy points on DraftKings at $6,400. He wasn’t going to return that price given the minutes restriction. It wasn’t a crazy second game, but also not a disappointing one by any means. It was another loss for the Pelicans, who dropped the game 113-106 vs. the Nuggets. Perhaps Alvin Gentry may need to extend Zion a bit in the future.
Update, 9:39 p.m. — Williamson was supposed to be on a minutes restriction, but that may not be the case so far in the second half. He’s played 16 minutes and has 15 points with 5 rebounds. We’ll see if he goes over 20 minutes in the fourth quarter, but it’s looking that way. The Nuggets are slowly pulling away, so Zion may be held to just four minutes in the fourth.
Update: 9:22 p.m. — We’re into the third quarter and Zion is up to 13 points, closing in on his player point prop on DK Sportsbook for all you bettors out there. He’s looking good on offense, but hasn’t accumulated many more stats with just three rebounds. He’s also missed three free throws for what it’s worth.
Update, 9:03 p.m. — Zion has nine points and one board and we’re at halftime in his second game. Williamson is back to scoring and is doing it more consistently tonight, though he isn’t doing much. It’s a good sign he isn’t turning the ball over nearly as much. We’ll see how much run he gets in the second half. He’s already up to 9 minutes and could be capped around 18 minutes.
Update, 8:16 p.m. — Williamson has a few buckets early on and is up to four points in the first quarter vs. the Nuggets. He looks more aggressive early and has Torrey Craig on him, which is a definite mismatch. Zion is out of the game after four minutes, like we expected. That’s a clean 4.0 fantasy points for Williamson so far.
Update, 6:57 p.m. — Here’s Zion getting ready for the Nuggets tonight.
Update, 6:37 p.m. — Alvin Gentry expects Williamson’s Friday workload to be similar to the one he had in his regular season debut against the Spurs. He’s expected to sit when he shows signs of fatigue.
Gentry says he'll use "similar rules" as he did last game with Zion Williamson's minutes. He'll sit when he shows signs of fatigue.— Will Guillory (@WillGuillory) January 24, 2020
Update, 12:26 p.m. — Williamson talk to media earlier Friday and commented on what we should expect from him tonight.
Zion Williamson on what he expects the plan will be for his playing time and usage tonight vs. Nuggets: "I feel like it’s going to be pretty similar." He logged 18 minutes Wednesday vs. Spurs— Jim Eichenhofer (@Jim_Eichenhofer) January 24, 2020
What to expect from Zion Williamson vs. the Nuggets
SO Zion’s price in DFS went from $5,000 to $6,400 over night because of the outburst. While it was an incredibly stretch of basketball rivaling that of Reggie Miller and Tracy MacGrady, I think we need to temper our expectations a bit for tonight. Zion only played in 4-minute spurts and got a bit of run at the end there to make it to 18 minutes.
My guess is he plays around 16-18 minutes again tonight. The Nuggets are a much slower paced team than the Spurs and better defensively. They’ve got some guys to throw on Williamson who can defend in Jerami Grant, Torrey Craig and even Nikola Jokic. With the price inflation, it’s difficult to play Zion on DraftKings given he likely won’t see much playing time again. Sure, there’s the off-chance he goes bonkers in a quarter again. I don’t see it happening, but that was how I felt for much of his debut. I think we’ll see more consistent play throughout the game, but this matchup will be tough for Williamson to break out in.
In season-long formats, I think Zion is OK to roll out in a UTIL spot in a deeper league. He has that upside and will play around 16-18 minutes, like I said. It’s a risky play, and you may have more appealing options given there are 11 games on the schedule Friday. If you don’t have better options, I think you’ve got to play Zion.