It’s not easy on the Big Easy for Zion Williamson, who is apparently working on another injury.
Speaking on Media Day Monday, Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin revealed that Williamson is still recovering from offseason surgery to repair a fractured right foot. Although Griffin said Williamson should be ready for the start of the season, the unexpected revelation of the injury caught many by surprise and is cause for concern in New Orleans.
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Zion Williamson’s injury history
In two seasons so far, Williamson has struggled to stay on the court, battling a host of ailments that predate even his time at Duke. Williamson missed several months during high school due to a minor knee injury from a fall.
The broken shoe incident heard around the world at Duke resulted in a grade 1 knee sprain that caused him to miss three weeks before he finally returned in time for the NCAA tournament.
After being selected with the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Williamson was shot in the knee within minutes of his NBA Summer League debut, forcing the team to shut him down as a precaution.
Then, during the preseason, he suffered a meniscus tear that kept him out of the lineup and delayed the start of his rookie season by four months. He made an instant impact coming back, but missed the Pelicans’ last two games in the bubble due to a sore right knee.
His second season was better, although he still missed 11 games due to two separate hand injuries. A sprained thumb caused him to miss three games in April, followed by a more serious fracture of his ring finger that forced him to miss the final two weeks of the season.
Over two seasons, Williamson has appeared in 85 of 144 possible games.
How Zion Williamson’s injury impacts this season
If all goes according to Griffin’s plan, it shouldn’t have a lasting impact. Williamson will be in the lineup and will once again inflict paint pain on all who dare to stand in the way.
But as we’ve seen from the moment New Orleans drafted the generation forward, things rarely go according to plan.
Even if he returns in time for the season, Williamson’s recovery complicates the Pelicans’ preseason preparation. New Orleans is not only adjusting to another new coach in Willie Green, but it is also facing significant changes to the starting lineup. Notably, Devonte ‘Graham replaces Lonzo Ball as the starting point guard, while Jonas Valanciunas stands alongside Williamson at center, in place of Steven Adams.
Williamson operates as the center of everything New Orleans does offensively and losing precious time during abbreviated training camp puts the Pelicans behind the eight ball.
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The pressure is starting to mount on Griffin, who surely doesn’t want Williamson to get mad at the franchise like Anthony Davis did. There are already rumors that Williamson’s family wants him out of New Orleans, and in SN’s offseason ratings, New Orleans received a D thanks in part to a series of uninspiring moves that don’t change his trajectory in any meaningful way. . And that was BEFORE the reveal of Williamson’s offseason surgery.
Even with two additional spots up for grabs with play-in games both in the bubble and last season, the Pelicans missed the playoffs in each of Williamson’s first two seasons. They enter the season with over / under 38.5 wins according to Fanduel, tenth in the Western Conference.
The Pelicans open their season on October 20 at home against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.