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Zion Williamson eager to unveil expanded game in effort to help Pelicans reach postseason

The young superstar says he’ll be shooting more floaters and midrange jumpers

New Orleans Pelicans Media Day Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Heads up, Zion Williamson says he’s done with missing the NBA playoffs.

“It was a sickening feeling,” Williamson told Joel Meyers and Antonio Daniels on a SiriusXM Radio interview earlier this week. “We weren’t in the playoffs — and I’m watching the playoffs — I’m like, man, we can be there. Like I know we can be there this year. Man, something just took over me and I was like, yeah, it’s not happening again. It’s not happening no more.

“When I started training, everything, from every rep, everything just felt personal. Everything was like, nah, nothing this year is going to stop us from getting into the playoffs. Like, we’re going to do this. I’m going to make sure I do my part and more, to make sure my teammates see me working.”

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans-Media Day Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

What provoked this passionate response? A follow-up question by AD relating to Zion’s boulder comment from media day, which initially stemmed from an explanation about what had caused his injury over the summer.

I think I was overdoing it when I was training because I felt like I had this huge chip on my shoulder, this huge boulder.

Williamson expounded on his thoughts in the SiriusXM interview as to why he originally referenced an object as large as a boulder.

“It’s a personal boulder for a lot of things,” Williamson said. “One, I want to be known as a winner. I feel like if you win, people around you win as well, whether it’s in life or the game of basketball. Two, the city deserves this. I want to able to do that for the city of New Orleans because there’s great fans and they’re just looking for a reason to fully be in. I want to be able to say, yeah, I did this for the city as well. Three, you didn’t make the playoffs.”

As fans know full well, Zion has missed the NBA playoffs in his first two professional seasons on the New Orleans Pelicans. He doesn’t plan on adding a third year to that total anytime soon, though, and an expanded arsenal could help him stop that disappointing streak in its tracks.

“People are going to see a lot of things,” Williamson said. “They’re going to see me make the game easier for myself. As simple as that sounds, making the game easier on myself, it’s just going to open a lot for my game. The coaches trust me to play point forward. It’s going to open up a lot spacing. I’ve got a lot of shooters this year.

New Orleans Pelicans v New York Knicks Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

“I guess the best thing I can say is, a lot of floaters, a lot of midrange shots. I worked on that a lot this {summer} because I’m a rhythm player. If I have the ball, like I’ll just create a rhythm, so the midrange shot for me feels really good. So, it’s going to be a lot of that.”

According to Basketball-Reference, Williamson has attempted a total of 26 midrange jumpers and 48 treys to this point in his career.

A mere 74 shots from beyond ten feet out of 1,397 field goal attempts.

While it’s no secret that Williamson has lived strictly inside the paint, few were able to successfully coral him as evidenced by the 12th-best effective field goal percentage last season and a 61.0 eFG% for his career.

With Zion not needing to get to the front of the rim on every scoring possession now, opposing defenses could be forced to go back to the drawing board. That would be a game-changer for the Pelicans offense. Fitting, considering that Williamson is already regarded as a game-changer.

Who else can’t wait to watch him in action this season??

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.