Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson ties rookie record previously set by... Jake Layman?

Zion Williamson ties rookie record previously set by... Jake Layman?

There was some serious hype surrounding New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson as his made his debut Wednesday night.

It really wasn’t until the fourth quarter, though, when he really showed he was worth all the hype.

But here’s the thing…

Zion reached a special feat in NBA history, which was held by a former Portland Trail Blazer.

With his 17-fourth quarter points, Williamson became the first rookie to score that many points in his rookie debut since Jake Layman did in back in 2016.

Fear the Turtle, Zion!!

Layman made his NBA debut on November 1, 2016, scoring 17 points in eight minutes off the bench in the Trail Blazers' 127-104 loss to the Golden State Warriors.

Layman hit five three-pointers in the game, while Williamson knocked down four threes in the Pelicans 121-117 loss to the Spurs Wednesday night.

Layman became the first Trail Blazer ever to make five three-pointers in a debut, and finished one shy of the franchise record in a quarter.

As for the Pelicans overall No. 1 pick, Williamson scored 17 points in just 3:08 minutes of work in the final quarter. He finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists in the loss.

Now everyone in Rip City can brag about Layman when NBA fans hype up Zion's 17 points in a quarter.

Been there, done that.  

Greg Oden wishes he would've listened to his body, gives advice to Zion Williamson

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Greg Oden wishes he would've listened to his body, gives advice to Zion Williamson

The pressures that come with being a No. 1 overall NBA pick.

Having bad knees.

People believing that this pick is transcendent, that it's going to turn the franchise around.

Those are just a few things that former Trail Blazers center Greg Oden and current New Orleans Pelicans big man Zion Williamson have in common.

Oden opened up about his difficult time in Portland on Thursday’s episode of the ‘Scal and Pals’ podcast with Brian Scalabrine and Steve Ceruti.  

Scalabrine wanted to know the truth about Oden’s knees: Were there any signs of knee troubles before the Trail Blazer selected him as the No. 1 pick in 2007?

"No." According to Oden, the knee problems started after the team was trying its best to fix a length difference in his legs.

I never had any knee issues before – after Summer League and then out of nowhere it spiraled after that, and it was just thing after thing. Nothing that I could do to control it… When I look back at it that summer, I had like a leg length differential, so when I first got into the league, I got some new orthotics that fixed that all the way when my whole entire growing up and playing career I was so used that leg length, my little length on my right side… That was comfortable for me.  – Former Trail Blazers big man Greg Oden

Oden added, “I got those orthotics and then two days later, my knee was so swollen I couldn’t even put jeans on.”

The now 31-year-old believes that by fixing the length differential in his legs he had to overcompensate and thus the effects of the orthotics are were all the knee problems began.

By trying to do what the best for Oden, did those decisions actually expedite his early retirement in 2016?   

Another big man, who has been dealing with his own knee issues, is No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson.

Williamson underwent surgery on the meniscus in his right knee on October 21st. He first returned to full practices the first week of January.

Oden offered up this piece of advice to the young fella:

“Get as much information about your own body as possible, figure out what works for you, work with the doctors and the trainers to figure out what’s going to be the best thing for you instead of just going with the first option,” Oden said.

Oden also discussed what kind of pressure comes along with being the top pick.

I remember being drafted and I was the first one to do all the interviews and then I was the last one to leave the arena from all the interviews [on draft night]. And then, I had an hour to get my stuff together and I was on a plane to Portland and I was surprised with a parade and I was like – ‘oh shoot, like this is real.’ It looked like the whole city showed out for it.  So, I mean, instantly it’s a lot of pressure. You feel like you’re going to let a lot of people down or you see a lot of people looking up to you like you’re going to change that city for the better – I think that’s the definition of pressure, actually. -- Greg Oden on Scal and Pals

The former Blazer says he wishes all the best for Zion after meeting him last summer.

The original timetable for Williamson’s injury was six to eight weeks. His now targeted return date of January 22nd would be a little more than 13 weeks from the surgery.


Ionescu's "freaking amazing" evening at the ESPYS

Ionescu's "freaking amazing" evening at the ESPYS

The 2019 ESPY Awards recognized athletic achievements from some of the most renowned athletes and entertainers including Oregon’s own triple-double queen Sabrina Ionescu.

Wooden Award winning Ionescu brought her twin brother, Eddy, and her parents to the award show on Wednesday night at The Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

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How would Eddy describe the night? A “freaking amazing” evening that was even more special because the Ionescus made it a family affair.

By the way, Eddy hopes to walk on the Ducks men’s basketball team this season. 

The Ducks women’s basketball star was nominated for two awards; Best Record-Breaking Performance and Best College Athlete against the likes of New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, Golden State’s Klay Thompson, high school track star Matthew Boling, Duke’s Zion Williamson, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray and UCLA softball player Rachel Garcia.

Brees received the ESPY for best record-breaking performance for becoming the NFL's all-time leading passer. Williamson grabbed the title for best college athlete.

The Ionescus didn’t come back with hardware but did get to meet some iconic athletes at the star-studded affair. To name a few; Brees, retired basketball player Julius Erving. Houston Rockets’ PJ Tucker and Seattle Storm’s Breanna Stewart.  

Zion didn't cause that earthquake in Vegas but he had some ferocious dunks

Zion didn't cause that earthquake in Vegas but he had some ferocious dunks

LAS VEGAS – It was a happening. A big event – which this city loves.

And even with an earthquake that stopped the game with 7:53 left, the fans probably got what they came to see:

A few Zion Williamson thunderdunks.

The Thomas & Mack Center has been sold out for a week in anticipation of a Summer League game between the Knicks and Pelicans featuring several players who won’t even sniff an NBA roster this season. Or ever.

But it was also the very first professional game – a non-counting one, at that – for the league's No. 1 draft choice. And the fans greeted him with huge ovations for every dunk in the layup line during warmups and everything he did during the game.

Alas, they got him for only nine minutes and 10 seconds. He suffered a knee-to-knee contusion during the first half and didn’t play after intermission.

Williamson – or should we just go with the one-name thing now and call him Zion? – is one of the most interesting players I’ve ever seen in the NBA. He’s listed at 6-7 and 285 pounds on the New Orleans Pelicans’ roster but in person he doesn’t look that tall. Some say he’s just not in basketball shape at this time and he did seem stockier than I expected.

Given all that, he’s crazy athletic. He’s quick, can handle the ball some and is a ferocious dunker – the attribute that people seem to most want to see from him.

There aren’t many guys with his body type who have made it big in the NBA. Charles Barkley is the one he’s most-often compared with but my recollection is that Barkley had longer arms and did a better job of creating space for himself under the boards.

Now keep in mind, this is off just a few minutes of a summer-league game and he’s playing with a bunch of guys who don’t have NBA skills and probably just three or four days of practice together.

All that matters.

During his 9:10 on the court, Zion hit 4 of his 9 shots, nothing from any range at all, went 0-2 from three and 3-6 from the foul line. He had three rebounds and finished with a minus-15 plus-minus --- the worst of any player on the court. All of that means nothing, of course, but I do have some questions about him that will be answered this season:

Is he going to be a good rebounder? You would think so, because he’s so aggressive and bouncy. But during this game people were grabbing boards over the top of him and he’s going to have some adjusting to do to the size of NBA players.

Can he guard people? Not sure. Couldn’t tell in this game but with his toughness and quickness, he should be able to do it. I would also say he’s going to get a lot of calls from the officials. Star players do and he’s already perceived as a star.

Can he stay healthy? He’s going to have to get into shape or he’s probably going to have some injuries. This is an 82-game slog he's headed for and he’s going to be carrying a heavy load for the Pelicans.

Time, not the summer league, will tell.

He’s fun to watch, that’s for sure. Too bad we didn’t get to see more of him.

Enes Kanter's comments on Zion Williamson don't sit well with Julius Randle

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Enes Kanter's comments on Zion Williamson don't sit well with Julius Randle

Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter is known for being outspoken.

He’s been a longtime critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his authoritarian policies. Now, he’s speaking out about No. 1 pick Zion Williamson.

"I kind of feel like he's overhyped like he's Julius Randle with hops," Kanter told Colin Cowherd on his radio show The Herd on Wednesday.

Apparently Kanter’s red-hot take on Williamson did not sit well with Randle, who fired back in a post on Twitter.

Randle isn’t wrong. In a loss to the Trail Blazers in March, Randle did drop 45 points on Portland, but scored only two of those against Kanter out of six possessions.

It wasn’t enough to give the Pelicans a win, and Kanter made sure to point this out in his response.

While Kanter’s strong opinion of Williamson didn’t sit well with Randle, it wasn’t all shade.

"If he develops his shot, he definitely could become a Hall of Famer,” Kanter said of Williamson. “It's all in his hands. He just needs to put the work in and go out there and show the whole world."