NBA

Zion Williamson nearing Shaquille O’Neal’s record, posts another 20-point game on 50-percent shooting

Zion Williamson scored 30 points on 9-of-13 shooting in New Orleans’ 113-109 win over Denver on Sunday, marking the 20th straight game in which Williamson has scored at least 20 points on at least 50-percent shooting. That ties him with Karl Malone for the second-longest streak of such games in the shot-clock era (1954-55). 

Shaquille O’Neal is next. 

Per ESPN Stats and Info, O’Neal’s NBA record is 25 straight games with at least 20 points on at least 50-percent shooting. Efficiency is as much about the shots you don’t take as the ones you do, and Williamson, like O’Neal, knows which shots not to take. 

Over this 20-game stretch, which dates back to Feb. 6, Williamson had attempted a total of 328 shots, with 315 of them coming from inside the paint. Going even deeper, 284 of those shots have come from inside the restricted area, which is to say inside four feet. 

Williamson is next to impossible to stop when he gets to his left hand going downhill. Defenders know it’s coming, but he has already developed subtle setup maneuvers when he moves off the ball that enable him to catch on the move going left, and at that point it’s too late. The guy is a locomotive. 

And that’s just when he’s off the ball. The Pelicans are using Zion more and more as an initiator. He’s a good ball handler with a devastating first step and an ability to change directions on a dime that belies his bowling ball dimensions. He understands the leverage he holds when gets even a quarter step to the baseline, bodying defenders backwards and he rises to the rim. Add to that transition opportunities and offensive rebounds, and keeping Zion out of the paint is nightmare. 

If the outside shot comes along, forget about it. But even without that threat, Zion has the skill, quickness and power to score on his terms, and he’s disciplined enough to not venture outside his zones. He doesn’t settle. He gets where he wants to get, and that’s how you end up with 20 straight games of 20 points on 50-percent shooting. We’ll see if he has six more in him to pass Shaq. 



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