Zion Williamson facing off against RJ Barrett piqued the interest of more than just New York Knicks and Pelicans fans.
Zion Williamson is already must-see TV and it’s the beginning of July. The New York Knicks took on Williamson and the Pelicans on Friday night in the Las Vegas Summer League. The matchup was the highest rated summer league game ever according to Rod Walker of the New Orleans Advocate.
The #Pelicans – Knicks summer league game, which ended early because of the eartquake, was the highest rated summer league game ever. The top 5 markets were: New Orleans, Memphis, Norfolk, Raleigh Durham and Greensboro.
— Rod Walker (@rwalkeradvocate) July 6, 2019
Clearly, New Orleans is excited about Zion and tuned in to catch his first game in a Pelicans uniform. The game was called early when an earthquake hit Las Vegas.
The Raleigh-Durham and Greensboro areas in North Carolina also came up in the top five markets. This makes sense considering Williamson and RJ Barrett, former teammates at Duke, would face off for the first time in their professional careers.
Barrett struggled to find his rhythm in his pro debut. He finished the night with 10 points on 4-for-18 shooting. The lefty wasn’t great, but it’s always a bad idea to put too much stock into summer action.
Zion shot 0-for-2 from three and 3-for-6 from the free throw line. It’s fair to say his jump shot looked a little shaky. However, Williamson still scored 11 points on four dunks. One of those slams came on a play where he bullied Kevin Knox off the ball and threw down a thunderous jam.
Williamson bruised his left knee during the game and didn’t play in the second half. In fact, the Pelicans are pulling Williamson from play for the rest of the summer as a precaution.
“Zion will move forward from this incident without issue,” VP of basketball operations David Griffin said via ESPN. “However, in an abundance of caution, we have made the determination that he will not appear in game action for the remainder of NBA Summer League. He will continue to take part in training and conditioning with our performance team.”
The buzz around the summer league may start dying down without Zion front and center. However, the NBA has done an excellent job turning the summer league into an event all on its own.