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Zion 'couldn't show them everything' in long-awaited return to court

Jeff Haynes / National Basketball Association / Getty

Zion Williamson's first game in 17 months was a success for the New Orleans Pelicans star, who admits he's still adapting to a remodeled squad.

"Couldn't show them everything," Williamson said after the Pelicans' 129-125 preseason win Tuesday over the Chicago Bulls, courtesy of ESPN's Andrew Lopez. "But just kind of getting a feel for it again. Find spots. Picking and choosing where I want to attack. But, I got a new team since the last time I played. I'm still learning some of the guys.

"Today we were able to click. I feel like if we can do that for the rest of these preseason games, I feel we'll be in pretty good shape."

Williamson, who registered 13 points, four rebounds, and one assist in 15 minutes in Tuesday's victory, hadn't played since May 4, 2021. He missed the Pelicans' final six games that season due to a fractured finger before an offseason foot fracture would sideline him for all of 2021-22.

To his point, New Orleans' roster has been overhauled since he was last healthy.

In Williamson's last contest, he was joined by Lonzo Ball, Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Ingram, and Steven Adams in the starting lineup. On Tuesday, he started alongside Jonas Valanciunas, Herbert Jones, CJ McCollum, and Naji Marshall, though Ingram is expected to replace Marshall in the lineup during the season.

Pelicans head coach Willie Green, who was still an assistant for the Phoenix Suns when Williamson last played, was content with what he saw during the 22-year-old's brief appearance.

"He looked good, and he's just going to continue to get better," Green said. "That's what we know about (Zion); he works at it. He's a competitor. And you know it doesn't look like it, but he had 13 points, four rebounds in 15 minutes. That's the type of work he puts in on the floor."

As a sophomore in 2020-21, Williamson averaged 27 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in 61 games and was named an All-Star. He signed a five-year max rookie extension this summer worth a potential $231 million, tying him to the Pelicans through 2027-28.

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