The latest update regarding prized New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson’s long-awaited NBA debut suggests that there’s a chance last year’s No. 1 overall draft pick will finally be ready to play at some point later this month.
As cited by Bleacher Report, league insider Shams Charania reported via the Stadium Twitter account on Tuesday that both Williamson and the Pelicans are “hopeful of a January season debut” for the former Duke Blue Devils superstar, who has missed the entire regular season after undergoing surgery on his right knee on October 21. This, per the publication, further underscores how the Pelicans have been “extremely cautious” regarding Williamson, who was originally expected to be out for about six to eight weeks while recovering from the procedure.
With New Orleans’ 11-23 record putting them at 14th place in the Western Conference and no specific range of dates in January given for Williamson’s return, Bleacher Report added that the Pelicans have “no reason” to rush him back to action. There might even be a chance that the 6-foot-6-inch, 285-pound forward will have to miss the entire 2019-20 season. As further cited, Charania reported that New Orleans management will likely shut Williamson down for the rest of his rookie campaign if he suffers any setbacks upon returning to full practices later this month.
According to a separate report from Yahoo Sports, the Pelicans have taken a preventative approach when it comes to Williamson’s recovery. This includes showing him how to “walk and run properly,” as well as focusing on diet and conditioning in order to minimize the chances of another serious injury for an athlete known for his explosive style of play.
— Overtime (@overtime) December 29, 2019
Per his Sports-Reference player page, Williamson put up great all-around numbers during his lone season in Duke, averaging 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 2.1 steals, and 1.8 blocks per game and shooting 68 percent from the field. In four exhibition games for the Pelicans, the highly-touted rookie posted very similar statistics, though it wasn’t long before the knee issues that plagued him late in his stint with the Blue Devils began to flare up once again.
With Williamson on the sidelines, a number of Pelicans players have picked up the slack, including Brandon Ingram, who was acquired last summer in the trade that sent Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers. Currently, Ingram is in the middle of a breakout season that has seen him emerge as New Orleans’ No. 1 offensive option, though as Yahoo Sports pointed out, his future with the team may depend on how well he meshes with Williamson — assuming the rookie makes his debut in January as expected.