The New Orleans Pelicans went into the NBA All-Star break as hot as any team on the planet. They played well in the first game back from the league's intermission, blowing out the Houston Rockets. The next two home games went poorly but the team is still in fifth place after a road win in New York. More importantly, Zion Williamson looks ready to run as the team's defacto point guard and is projected to finish with All-NBA-worthy stats.

Williamson took a back seat in October and most of November. The Duke alum's season averages are 22.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 5.1 assists over 48 games but all are on the rise. The 23-year-old's averages through the first 35 games were 22.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 4.6 assists. CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram were operating with the ball more often back then. Williamson started being more assertive during the holidays, averaging 23.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 5.8 assists through the last 20 games.

Pelicans running with PG Zion Williamson experiment

Pelicans, Stephan A. Smith, Zion Williamson, Zion Williamson Pelicans, Zion Williamson Stephan A. Smith, Stephan A. Smith and Zion Williamson with Pelicans arena in the background

Third-year head coach Willie Green has leaned into the Point Zion Williamson experiment completely since Mardi Gras festivities started. The Pelicans played 10 games in February so far. Williamson, who needs to play 17 more games to be eligible for All-NBA honors, is averaging 24.0 points, 6.7 assists, and 5.9 rebounds this month. Williamson would end the season with averages of approximately 23 points, 5.5 assists, and 5.5 rebounds at current production levels. Green stressed how important Williamson has been after defeating the New York Knicks.

“(Williamson's) one of the best players in this league,” boasted Green. “He’s extremely talented. He’s putting the work in. I love that he’s matured before our eyes, especially when you that there are times he does not even force it when he sees guys are loaded up on him. He just kicks it to a teammate. There are times where he has it going and can get in the paint, can get to the foul line.”

“His defensive effort is there,” Green continued, “He is getting back and finishing possessions with rebounds. Having Z on the floor is a true blessing and luxury to have.”

There are 12 players averaging 23 points, five rebounds, and five assists in the last 15 games. More than half of those dozen have been in the regular season and NBA Finals MVP conversations over the last decade. Williamson is also on the list, finally keeping pace with his All-World talented contemporaries. Only two players who averaged close to those numbers did not make an All-NBA team: Lenny Wilkens and Nate Thurmond. Both of those former NBA All-Stars have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

That is some pretty good company to keep, even if ESPN's Stephen A. Smith is oblivious to Williamson's achievements this season. Now all Williamson has to do is play up to these All-NBA standards consistently.