Williamson out to prove he is a winner by helping New Orleans Pelicans to NBA title

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Zion Williamson received the ultimate present on his 22nd birthday.

As a thank you, he wants to deliver a championship to the New Orleans Pelicans.

Williamson officially signed his five-year, $193million rookie max extension with the Pelicans – with the potential to rise to $231m – at a YMCA in New Orleans where he was hosting a camp.

He signed the deal on Wednesday, the same day he turned 22, and sitting alongside Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon, executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin and coach Willie Green, Williamson – not surprisingly – said this is the number one birthday he has ever had.

"For the Pelicans to give me this birthday gift, I'm not going to let them down," Williamson said.

A year ago on his birthday, Williamson found out he broke his foot forcing him to miss the entire 2021-22 season. Now that he has been cleared to play, he has lofty goals.

"I want to prove that I'm a winner, it's as simple as that," he said. "The ultimate goal is to win a championship. And I feel like that's what we're all striving for."

The Pelicans made the playoffs this past season without Williamson and took the No. 1 seed Phoenix Suns to six games before being ousted.

With Williamson in the fold, the hope is he can help the franchise take the next step.

"It's gonna all come together at some point throughout the course of the season," Green said. "And when it does, I think we can be a scary team."

Williamson has only appeared in a mere 85 games since being the top pick of the 2019 NBA draft, but he has been outstanding when healthy, averaging 25.7 points, 7 rebounds and 3.2 assists while shooting just over 60 per cent.

Since his rookie season, Williamson has been instrumental to New Orleans' success. The Pelicans have won 47.1 per cent of their games while averaging 116.4 points in the 85 games Williamson has played, compared to winning 40.4 per cent of the games and an average of 111.1 points in the contests he has missed.

"Adding [Zion] back on the court with the group that we have is going to be a lot of fun but also really dangerous for the entire league and all of the 29 teams that have to face us night in and night out," Langdon said. "We are incredibly excited about that."

Suiting up alongside Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum, Williamson gives the Pelicans another scoring threat making the offense even more dangerous. New Orleans' offense thrived after acquiring McCollum last February, averaging 115.9 points after the trade compared to an average of 105.9 points in their first 54 games.

"We have an opportunity to be able to run toward sustained success for quite a long time," Griffin said. "We're young, we're talented, and most importantly – we are very hungry."

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