So much has happened in the NBA we started to forget that there’s a 285-pound kid getting ready to be unleashed on the NBA in New Orleans. Zion underwent surgery to repair a torn right lateral meniscus prior to the season’s start, and the Pelicans have been quiet and vague on his progress so far.
You want such an approach so there are no unrealistic timelines and pressure on players to rush back from injuries. It is actually an encouraging sign that we have heard very little about Zion – the Pelicans suddenly have all the hallmarks of a top-level organization with David Griffin. Here’s the update Griffin gave on Zion (via ESPN):
“Right now, I think we’re on target for eight weeks. Probably not to the day, but in and around that… The physical part is easy for him. He has an incredibly high basketball IQ. He loves being a teammate and getting better. He’s really rare among truly elite young players in that he enjoys the process of getting better. He loves the process of learning the game”
After a horrible start to the season, the Pelicans are only two games from the 8th spot in the West. With the Warriors becoming the worst team in the West and the Blazers struggling, easing Zion in and still hoping for a playoff appearance is not impossible. But, there should be no confusion – the Pelicans are thinking about a decade with Zion, not the ’19/’20 playoffs.
“[The rehab] is going very well. Day by day, it’s getting better and I think it’s going very well. I do feel like it’s getting stronger day by day. The trainers and staff are telling me day by day it’s getting stronger and I can feel the difference each day. … It’s kind of … it’s a long season. This isn’t like college or something where it’s 30 games. It’s 82 games, so I don’t really see a need to rush back. When they feel like I’m back to myself, they’ll let me play. Simple as that. … I’m just rehabbing man.”
If the rehab goes without any issues the eight-week target from surgery would bring Zion back around Christmas. What a wonderful gift that would be for all basketball fans.