CJ McCollum Gets Brutally Honest About Zion Williamson

New Orleans Pelicans, NBA Trade Rumors
NBA Analysis Network

The New Orleans Pelicans have not played a single game with Zion Williamson in the lineup yet during the 2021-22 NBA season. While he recovers away from the team, the Pels are seeing what CJ McCollum, who was acquired at the trade deadline, can do alongside Brandon Ingram.

McCollum has been highly impressive since being acquired by the Pelicans. Averaging 28.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 5.6 assists while shooting 52.8 percent from the floor and 43.4 percent from three-point range, the veteran guard will be a key element of what New Orleans is building.

While CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram certainly are talented players, the Pelicans need to get Zion Williamson back into the fold if they want to accomplish their goals as a franchise.

McCollum recently spoke with NBA.com and among the topics of discussion was Williamson’s ongoing recovery from injury. He shared some insight into the current situation after previously mentioning during an appearance on NBA on TNT that he hadn’t yet spoken to Williamson.

LATEST NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: NBA Executive Expects Zion Williamson To End Up With Knicks

“He’s trying to accomplish some things individually to get back to the team,” McCollum told NBA.com. “That’s important for people to realize.”

Williamson, 21-years-old, has “a lot on his plate right now” and McCollum made it clear that he want to be there for him. When Williamson eventually returns to the lineup, McCollum is confident the Pelicans will click from the start.

“I just want to be there for him and be someone to lean on who has gone through injuries and doubt and anxiety and all of the things that are associated with being removed from the team due to injury,” McCollum said. “He’s a really young, talented player that has got a lot on his plate right now. I think it’s important for him to focus on the process and on the rehab. The rest of the things will handle itself. But when he gets back, we’ll hit the ground running. That’s a guy that changes any franchise and their trajectory.”

LATEST NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: NBA Executive Expects Zion Williamson To End Up With Knicks

There was a lot of intriguing elements to the Pelicans’ half-court offense during the brief time Zion Williamson had the shooting gravity of JJ Redick to work with. Now, pair him with a guard like McCollum who thrives in off-ball screening actions, DHOs, and ball screens, there’s a lot of options.

“A great partnership,” McCollum said. “It’s not hard to play with a guy that shoots 65% from the field and can get you 30 [points] and 10 [rebounds].”

The New Orleans Pelicans can still accomplish a lot if Zion Williamson can get healthy and is fully invested in making the most of his situation with the NBA franchise that drafted him. The CJ McCollum addition significantly raises the ceiling of the group as a whole.

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