The Zion Effect is back in full effect as the No. 1 Draft pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and one of the most lauded, culturally captivating and marketed young players to ever enter the NBA will finally make his long-awaited debut tonight against the Spurs after suffering a torn right meniscus in October.
The next superstar in the NBA returns tonight! Welcome back Zion pic.twitter.com/0Tsvc9xw9M
— Griffin Hare (@HareGriffin) January 22, 2020
Despite his setbacks and some physical limitations and the tabloidish following of his rehab process — from reports that he was getting taller and learning how to walk all over again to the increasing narrative that his body can’t sustain its own weight — Zion is finally ready to hit the NBA stage.
Nobody wants to hit kill the court more than him.
“There were a lot of times when I just wanted to punch a wall or kick chairs,” Zion told reporters on the eve of his anticipated return. “It’s frustrating to not be able to move your body the way you want to…not to make any athletic movements. I mean, it’s tough.
Alleviating the immense pressure that he puts on his body when he lands on his thunderous dunks is a new addition to Zion’s workout repertoire.
“I have been working on my landing a lot. Not landing straight-legged. Not letting all my forces go into my legs. It’s a lot of technical stuff I really couldn’t explain, to be honest.”
What doesn’t need to be explained is that Zion’s arrival comes at the perfect time as the Pelicans have won 11 of 16 games and are now just 3.5 games out of the 8th playoff seed in the Western Conference, despite being 10 games below .500 (17-27).
Zion averaged 23.2 ppg on 71.4 percent shooting in the preseason, so if he can produce in limited minutes, Zion could be the spark the upstart Pelicans and coach Alvin Gentry need to make a legit playoff run. The fans will be packed in like sardines, even with him playing sparingly at first.
It’s the best-case scenario for the NBA which has been suffering from a ratings drop, in part due to the style of play, the absence of Zion and load management by some of the league’s blue-chip stars. To get Zion back before the All-Star break is huge for the league’s second-half marketing push.
Zion hits different.
He has a Charles Barkley power frame with a throwback game, built on speed, power, and dunks. His name alone incites electricity and excitement in the most casual hoops fans. Maybe this minor setback was exactly what he needed to get himself in proper physical condition. The honeymoon from his magical college season at Duke carried over into Summer League when he was obviously out of shape. The injury was a result of a combination of things.
He suffered a lot of criticism, which all of a sudden turned to doubt about everything from his shooting abilities to his health to his potential impact as a player.
We will see what the real is starting tonight.
The Pelicans have nurtured their young franchise star and tonight New Orleans is the place to be. NBA basketball just took it up another notch as the Zion Effect is officially unleashed on the league.