ARE we going to see a modern-day version of Michael Jordan’s 63-point explosion against the Boston Celtics in these playoffs?
That scenario is a possibility if New Orleans can creep up to the eighth and final seed of the Western Conference, giving Zion Williamson and the Pelicans the chance for a first-round face-off against the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers.
Tim Bontemps and Andrew Lopez of ESPN gathered the thoughts of some league executives about Williamson, the rookie sensation trying lead the Pelicans’ drive in the road to relevance.
The Pelicans are running 10th with a 28-36 record, but are among the 22 teams invited to the resumption in Orlando, and catching the playoff bus would allow Williamson to showcase his talent in the postseason stage, possibly against the Lakers.
According to the EPSN story, their regular-season game in Los Angeles last February 27 had 2.24 million viewers on TNT, while their match in New Orleans on March 1 drew even more views with 2.69M on ESPN.
"[Williamson is] a guy that drives eyeballs and attention," an Eastern Conference executive said, going as far as comparing him to another rising star coming off an injury who met a title favorite in the NBA playoffs more than three decades ago.
"[The NBA] would love to have a Michael Jordan versus the '86 Celtics moment in the first round," the executive continued. "If they could get their ideal world, that's what they would want."
That remains to be seen as Williamson and the rest of the Pelicans have plenty of work to do to have a shot at the No. 8 seed.