The New Orleans Pelicans are playing things cautiously with Zion Williamson and will not be rushing back the No. 1 draft pick from his knee injury.
Shortly after suffering a torn right meniscus, Williamson was given a window of six-to-eight weeks to return from the injury. That was on October 21. Eight weeks later, Williamson is not yet ready to make his NBA debut and, according to Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry, the team is taking it slow with its prized asset.
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry on rookie Zion Williamson’s knee: “He’s doing some stuff with us in practice, but we’re taking it slow. He’s working his butt off to get back on the court. We’ll put him out there when he’s ready to play. It’s not going to be any big rush.”
— kerry eggers (@kerryeggers) December 24, 2019
Williamson’s debut, when it does take place, will be among the more anticipated in recent NBA memory. The Pelicans are slated to play on Christmas Day, which has long been a showcase for the NBA. Williamson was the driving force in the decision to put New Orleans on the schedule for that day.
Unfortunately, the basketball world will have to wait a bit longer to see Zion Williamson as a professional.
Zion Williamson is a bit over a month removed from the knee surgery that has delayed his much-anticipated NBA debut, and the New Orleans Pelicans are now providing some hints as to when his return date might approximately be.
Appearing Friday on ESPN New Orleans 100.3, Pelicans GM David Griffin discussed the No. 1 overall pick’s progress from a torn right lateral meniscus.
“He’s progressing exactly as we had hoped he would,” said Griffin. “We’re really optimistic, and most importantly, Zion is really excited and that’s where we want him to be.”
Griffin also said the team would “err on the side of caution” with Williamson but that he was on schedule with his original six-to-eight week timetable.
“Right now, I think we’re on target for eight weeks,” Griffin added. “Probably not to the day, but in and around that.”
The 19-year-old Williamson underwent surgery on Oct. 20, and eight weeks would put his return date right around mid-December. The Pelicans have started the year just 6-9 in his absence (tenth in the West), but Williamson may have more pressing matters to attend to for now.
Zion Williamson may not be back until December after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on Monday.
The New Orleans Pelicans released an update on the star rookie, stating that he had surgery to address a torn right lateral meniscus. His recovery timetable is being put at six to eight weeks.
Update on Zion: pic.twitter.com/7Jn2jEdUVS
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) October 21, 2019
On that timetable, Williamson won’t play until mid-November at the earliest and near Christmas at the latest. No matter what, it’s cause for concern this early in his NBA career, and will definitely frustrate the Pelicans in their bid to become a Western Conference playoff team.
This isn’t going to do much to disprove reporting that there are concerns about Williamson’s weight, either. We’ll see how he looks when he comes back.
Zion Williamson is expected to be held out for several weeks at the start of the NBA regular season because of his latest knee injury, and there are rumblings that the former Duke star needs to get his weight under control in order to help prevent similar ailments going forward.
Shortly after ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news that Williamson’s injury is not “severe” but will force him to sit out for several weeks, Stephen A. Smith said on “First Take” that a source told him Zion has a strained meniscus. Perhaps more troubling, Smith said the same source said Nike is concerned about Williamson’s weight.
“Somebody told me that what they’re not telling us is that he’s got a strained meniscus, and Nike is concerned about his weight,” Smith said, as transcribed by Mike Chiari of Bleacher Report. “And they want him to use this opportunity to get some weight off him so he doesn’t put as much strain on that knee.”
The Pelicans are said to be relieved about Williamson’s knee soreness after he underwent further testing, but knee troubles have become somewhat of a recurring theme for the 19-year-old. Williamson is listed at 285 pounds, which is heavy for a player who is about 6-foot-6. Most of that has to do with his incredible strength, but it would not be a surprise if the Pelicans and Nike — his biggest sponsor — want him to shed a few pounds.
One former NBA big man already offered some advice to Williamson for keeping extra weight off. Williamson has now dealt with two knee injuries during the preseason, and he had more of a fluke injury when his sneaker blew apart during a game at Duke. The issue is certainly one worth monitoring.
New Orleans Pelicans fans are going to have to wait a while to see first overall pick Zion Williamson make his regular-season NBA debut.
Williamson underwent further testing this week to determine the cause of soreness in his right knee that, and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski the injury is expected to keep him out for several games at the start of the regular season. Fortunately, it is not considered to be anything “severe.”
A severe injury has been ruled out for Zion Williamson’s right knee, but he is expected to miss period of weeks to start regular season, league sources tell ESPN. Pels are clearly treating injury with an abundance of caution but there’s no shortage of confidence on full recovery.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 18, 2019
The Pelicans obviously have a ton invested in Williamson, so there is no way they want him to be anything less than 100 percent healthy before he takes the floor. He missed the majority of the Las Vegas Summer League after sustaining a bruise in his left knee, and we all remember the knee sprain he suffered at Duke after his Nike sneaker infamously exploded. While it does not sound like the latest injury is something to be alarmed about, the history is at least somewhat concerning.
Williamson has already given NBA fans a glimpse of his ability, as he averaged 23.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in the four preseason games in which he appeared. His debut will be the one of the most highly anticipated storylines of the upcoming season.
Zion Williamson splashed a triple during Friday’s preseason win over the Utah Jazz, and it may become a somewhat common occurrence from here.
The New Orleans Pelicans star connected on his first three of the preseason in the first quarter on a straight shot from the top of the arc.
“ZioN oNly ShooTs iN thE paINt” pic.twitter.com/LlM7rhgrQu
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) October 12, 2019
After the game, Williamson said he would be comfortable taking that shot if defenses continued to give it to him.
“I mean, I was open so I shot it,” said the No. 1 overall pick,” per Amie Just of the New Orleans Advocate. “I think people kind of exaggerate the whole ‘can’t shoot’ thing. I’m very capable of shooting it, so if they want to leave me open, I’m gonna shoot it every time.”
With his power, touch, and athleticism, the 19-year-old is already an efficiency monster in the restricted area, so adding the threat of a three-point shot will create a major problem for NBA defenses. Williamson did shoot a fairly solid 33.8 percent from three in his one season at Duke, and he has already raved about NBA spacing and how it will open up new dimensions of his game.
Zion Williamson has been told he could probably have a successful career in the NFL because of his size and strength, and those qualities were on display once again on Friday. Only this time, they didn’t do the No. 1 overall pick any good.
Williamson and some other New Orleans Pelicans players hit the golf course for an event with season ticket holders and corporate sponsors, and Zion had a bit of an equipment problem while teeing off.
“He literally broke the club!”
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) September 13, 2019
That’s right — the 6-foot-7, 280-pound Williamson is literally so strong that the head went flying off his iron. Not surprisingly, Charles Barkley knows exactly how that feels.
Williamson’s swing didn’t look quite as bad as Barkley’s, but the former Duke star may need to get fitted for some custom clubs if he wants to really get into golf.