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Pelicans go with heavy dose of ‘point Zion,’ he says it ‘just feels natural’

Michael Smith and Michael Holley debate how the NBA's race for Most Valuable Player is being affected by injuries and take a look at the current favorites, including Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

More and more, as the season has gone on, Stan Van Gundy has put the ball in the hands of second-year star Zion Williamson and asked him to do more than just score — although he still does plenty of that — but to also be the shot creator for others. To essentially be the point guard.

With Lonzo Ball in street clothes (hip), there was a lot of “point Zion” on Friday night in the Pelicans’ win over the 76ers, and Van Gundy said after the game to expect more of it in the future. Williamson himself said the role feels natural. Here is Zion’s quote, via Andrew Lopez of ESPN.

“It just feels natural to me,” Williamson said of having the ballhandling duties put on his shoulders. “I’ve been playing the game since I was 4. At this point, it just feels natural. I’m still learning, but certain things just feel natural.”

Williamson was a point guard entering high school, before the growth spurt that turned him into a forward-sized player, and he has retained that feel for the game. Williamson brought the ball up the court 35 times Friday night, including much of the fourth quarter, and he looks comfortable initiating the offense and creating.

Van Gundy recognizes where this team is heading and encourages it.

“We want to get him more experience with that stuff going forward because I think that’s where his future is in this game,” Van Gundy said. “I really do. “He just needs reps and more and more and we’ve increased it throughout the year giving him more and more opportunities. We’d like to give him more going forward. We’ll try to build some more things for him.”

Now it’s up to David Griffin and the Pelicans front office to build a team around Zion that can play off and accentuate those skills.