Pelicans’ Zion Williamson ‘dominated’ in first scrimmage since 2020

Zion Williamson’s first scrimmage in what feels like forever apparently went fantastic on Tuesday night.

Williamson opened training camp with the New Orleans Pelicans normally on Tuesday and participated in a 5-on-5 scrimmage — which marked his first real scrimmage with the team since May 2020 after a string of injuries kept him sidelined.

Though it’s early and just an internal scrimmage, Williamson looked back to his old self.

“Z looked amazing. His strength, his speed,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said, via ESPN. “He dominated the scrimmage pretty much … What stood out was his force more than anything. He got down the floor quickly. When he caught the ball, he made quick decisions. Whether it was scoring, finding a teammate. It was really impressive to see.”

Williamson didn’t play at all last season for the Pelicans while dealing with a lingering foot injury. He first underwent surgery to repair his fractured foot last August, but he wasn’t cleared to resume basketball activities until March after dealing with several setbacks.

Williamson, despite being cleared to return to the court a few weeks before the Pelicans were knocked out of the playoffs, didn’t end up playing at all. His relationship with the organization was reportedly deteriorating throughout the season, too, which only made rumors about him worse.

The 22-year-old, however, signed a five-year, $194 million max extension with the team this offseason.

Williamson averaged 27 points and 7.2 rebounds, both career-highs, during the 2020-21 season. Though it may certainly take time for him to get back to that level, Williamson has at least left a good impression so far this fall.

Any issues he had, health and otherwise, appear to be behind him.

"He looks like Z," Pelicans forward Larry Nance said, via ESPN. "Dude hasn't played basketball for 500-something days. It's not like none of us are expecting that right away but shoot, I got to be honest with you, dude looks good. It's going to take time for everybody to adjust to him. It's going to take him time to adjust to everybody, but it's hard not to be impressed."

Zion Williamson
Zion Williamson, after missing last season, “looked amazing” on Tuesday in his first 5-on-5 work since May 2020. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)