New Orleans Pelicans' Zion Williamson, left, drives past Brooklyn Nets'...

New Orleans Pelicans' Zion Williamson, left, drives past Brooklyn Nets' Nic Claxton, top right, and Ben Simmons during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022 in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) Credit: AP/Frank Franklin II

Is this the season that Zion Williamson lives up to his promise of greatness?

The answer to that likely will determine whether the New Orleans Pelicans can make the leap to contend with the elite teams of the NBA or bow out early in the first round of the playoffs.

Like the Nets’ Ben Simmons, Williamson (25 points, nine rebounds Wednesday night) was playing his first game in more than a year when the Nets opened the season being routed by the Pelicans, 130-108, at Barclays Center.

Williamson, 22, has played in only 85 of a possible 226 career games since the Pelicans made him the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft. He missed all of last season after fracturing his foot before the start of the campaign.

Still, when the 6-foot-6, 284-pound Williamson is healthy, he is almost an unstoppable force. In 2021-22, when he played 61 of a possible 72 games and made the All-Star team, he averaged 27 points and shot over 61% from the floor.

Kevin Durant said there’s no one who compares with Williamson.

“You’ve seen guys at that size, 6-7, that can get up and down the floor and move; but not at that level, though,” Durant said. “You’ve seen guys like Jason Maxiell. I’m not saying they jump as high as Zion, but they were undersized guys that played bigger. And Zion’s one of those guys. I’m missing so many guys that were that tall at 6-6 . . . Charles Barkley, bruiser-type guys but played bigger. But Zion’s athleticism trumps all of theirs by far. When you add that to the mix, it makes him a one-of-one.”

Nets coach Steve Nash said the Nets were expecting to see a very healthy Williamson.

“I think we’ve all seen enough of Zion to know the talent and strengths that he brings to the floor every night,” Nash said. “….We’re definitely expecting him to be flying out there and to put pressure on us so we have to be prepared and very diligent with our coverages.”

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