Despite the NBA implementing a play-in tournament some believed was just to get Zion Williamson into the bubble, the Pelicans missed the 2020 postseason. New Orleans missed the postseason in disappointing fashion last season, too.
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.”
Williamson sounds like Suns guard Devin Booker in 2018. After Booker said, “This is probably my last year ever not making the playoffs,” Phoenix missed the next two postseasons before breaking through last season.
It’s great Williamson is so driven. That bodes well for him in the long run.
But the Pelicans will have a tough time cracking the playoffs next season (play-in tournament is much more doable). New Orleans had an underwhelming offseason, and Williamson is sidelined by an injury he says he suffered when pushing himself too hard. Working harder to win is great. Understanding the finer points of how to win can differ.
For now, Williamson is trying to avoid those questions altogether and just lead the Pelicans into the playoffs.