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Zion Williamson historic scoring mark beats Giannis Antetokounmpo, Shaquille O’Neal

Zion Williamson, Pelicans, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Shaquille O'Neal

Despite only playing in 19 games in this 2019-20 season, Zion Williamson has brought his game to heights unlike any other in the modern era. The New Orleans Pelicans rookie standout is averaging a monstrous 20.9 points per game in the paint per 36 minutes, a figure much higher than reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (20.4) and NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal, who averaged 20.8 points in the paint per 36 minutes in his best inside-scoring season (2002-03).

Williamson’s points-in-the-paint numbers are the highest in the 24 seasons for which the stat has been tracked, according to NBA.com’s John Schuhmann.

The Duke prodigy railed a perfect 4-of-4 from 3 in his NBA debut against the San Antonio Spurs, but he has gone back to his meal ticket since. Williamson has taken 85% of his field goal attempts from the restricted area, the fifth-highest rate among 296 players with at least 200 field goal attempts this season.

While it may be a small sample size, there’s no denying that the 6-foot-6 power forward can bang with just about anyone down in the paint.

His slowest game came against the long Milwaukee Bucks, where his athleticism and raw strength proved no problem for a long bunch of defenders. Williamson still managed to score 20 points, but he shot a measly 5-of-19 from the floor in a loss.

But that rough patch did nothing to keep the Pelicans rookie off his stride. As a matter of fact, Williamson has shot 50% or better in 17 of his 19 games in the pros. Overall, the youngster is shooting a robust 58.9% from the field.

Unless players are packing on some serious muscle during this quarantine period, there’s very little the NBA can do to stop the No. 1 pick from being a force in the paint.