Zion Williamson, by the numbers

NEW ORLEANS — Zion Williamson started his 100th career NBA game in appropriate style, finishing with a lob from Jose Alvarado for his first bucket Monday night.

Williamson finished with 23 points, eight rebounds and a career-high eight assists and three blocks as the New Orleans Pelicans held off the Oklahoma City Thunder 105-101.

Williamson’s landmark game has been a long time coming – 1,042 days have passed since his debut on January 21, 2020 as injuries derailed much of his career to date, including missing the entire 2021-22 season with a foot injury.

But Williamson said the time off court made him a better person.

“It’s been a long journey,” Williamson said after Monday’s win. “I wish the journey had been like this? Absolutely not. I wish I could have played every game.

“But at the end of the day, I’m still grateful that I went through it. Because it has helped me realize a lot mentally and spiritually and just grow as a man.

“So for me to finally play a hundred games… Think about it, I’m in three coaches. This is the first year the dressing room has looked roughly the same in terms of players. What I can take away from that is that it’s just good to somehow only have stable people around me now.”

With finally 100 games under his belt, here’s how the beginning of Williamson’s career played out against the all-time greats. Note: Zion has historically been an elite society.

  • Williamson averages a career 25.2 points on 60% shooting. No player debuting in the shot-clock era has ever averaged those numbers over their first 100 career games. In fact, the only players with those numbers are over any 100 game span in the shot clock era are Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin McHale and Wilt Chamberlain.

  • Williamson (2,524) is the 12th player in NBA history with 2,500 points in his first 100 career games. He is the first player since Michael Jordan to achieve this feat. The others who make it: Chamberlain, Walt Bellamy, Oscar Robertson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, George Mikan, Rick Barry, Elvin Hayes, Elgin Baylor, David Thompson, and Billy Knight. (Thompson and Knight both played in the ABA prior to their NBA debut.) All players except Knight are in the Hall of Fame.

  • Williamson has 42 career games with 20 points in the restricted area. No other player to debut in the last 25 seasons has made it 10 times in their first 100 career games.

  • Williamson has 1,898 career paint points. Over the past 25 seasons, O’Neal has been the only player to score as many goals in the color over a 100-game span.

  • Williamson has 54 career games with 25 scoring and 50% shooting, tied with Abdul-Jabbar for second most of any player in his first 100 career games in the shot-clock era; only Bellamy has more (57).

  • Williamson has 98 games with at least 10 points. Among players who have made debuts over the past 25 seasons, only Joel Embiid (98) and Blake Griffin (99) can rival Zion.

  • Williamson scored at least 20 points in 83 of his first 100 games. That’s the highest first 100-game performance by any player since Jordan (85).

ESPN Stats & Information’s Matt Williams contributed to this story.

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