NEW ORLEANS -- Zion Williamson began his 100th career NBA game in fitting style, finishing a lob from Jose Alvarado for his first bucket Monday night.
Williamson finished it with 23 points, eight rebounds and a career-high-tying eight assists and three blocks as the New Orleans Pelicans held off the Oklahoma City Thunder, 105-101.
Williamson's milestone game has been a long time coming -- it has been 1,042 days since his debut on Jan. 21, 2020, as injuries have derailed much of his career so far, including missing the entire 2021-22 season with a foot injury.
But Williamson said that time away from the court has made him a better person.
"It's been a long journey," Williamson said after Monday's win. "Would I have liked the journey to have gone like that? 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 that. Because it helped me realize a lot mentally, spiritually and just growing as a man.
"So for me to finally hit a hundred games ... Think about it, I'm on three coaches. This is the first year where the locker room has looked somewhat the same players-wise. The thing I can take away from that is it's just good to kind of have just steady people around me now."
With 100 games finally under his belt, here's how the beginning of Williamson's career has stacked up against the all-time greats. Hint: Zion has some historically elite company.
Williamson is averaging 25.2 points on 60% shooting for his career. No player to debut in the shot-clock era has ever averaged those numbers through his first 100 career games. In fact, the only players with those numbers 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's the first player since Michael Jordan to accomplish the feat. The others to pull it off: Chamberlain, Walt Bellamy, Oscar Robertson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, George Mikan, Rick Barry, Elvin Hayes, Elgin Baylor, David Thompson and Billy Knight. (Thompson and Knight played in the ABA prior to their NBA debuts.) All players except for Knight are in the Hall of Fame.
Williamson has 42 career games with 20 points in the restricted area. No other player to debut over the last 25 seasons has done it 10 times through their first 100 career games.
Williamson has scored 1,898 career paint points. Over the last 25 seasons, the only player to score that many in the paint over any 100-game span is O'Neal.
Williamson has 54 career games with 25 points and 50% shooting, tied with Abdul-Jabbar for the second-most by any player through 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 to debut in the last 25 seasons, only Joel Embiid (98) and Blake Griffin (99) can match Zion.
Williamson scored at least 20 points in 83 of his first 100 games. That's the most of any player through their first 100 games since Jordan (85).
ESPN Stats & Information's Matt Williams contributed to this story.