This week, a video of Zion Williamson throwing down a monstrous between-the-legs dunk caused a stir among NBA fans. Almost everyone took it as a sign of good things to come. An analyst also saw the clip and is convinced of the forward's athletic prowess. However, he believes it won't be enough for him to stay in New Orleans.
Jordan Schultz is doubtful if Williamson will ever wear the New Orleans Pelicans jersey again. From his point of view, the New Orleans fateful has seen his last game last season. Speaking with Dan Patrick, Schultz's logic is simple: Williamson is damaged goods.
"Just on the big picture here, I don't know if Zion Williamson is gonna ever play for the Pelicans again. He's played 85 games in his career. If you don't trade him this summer, what are you going to get for him long term? If you don't believe he's going to stay healthy, what are we talking about here? I think there is a very good chance he will not be back, and they will trade him this summer -- or at least strongly explore trading him," Schultz said, per the Dan Patrick Show.
Schultz isn't the very first analyst who shared such a daring forecast. A good amount of spectators believe that Williamson's lingering health issues have dampened his stock. Yes, he's still the first overall pick and fans have seen how he has assaulted defenses. But his talents are pretty much useless if he's not playing or if a cloud of concern continues to hover above him.
According to Schultz, the Pelicans could insert Williamson in a package to acquire some assets. Williamson alone won't attract potential trade partners. Again, his current health status will be a major issue in these transactions. The Pelicans front office might have to do a lot of gymnastics to find a trade partner.
A look at the Joel Embiid scenario
Though Schultz's analysis makes a lot of sense, a quick look at recent history reveals some hope for the Pelicans and Williamson partnership to push through. To recall, Joel Embiid was the third overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. However, a foot injury that required him to go under the needle twice prevented him from even playing a single NBA game. He made his debut in 2016-17 NBA season — two years after being drafted. The 76ers placed him under a minutes restriction and did not allow him to play back-to-back games.
If there's something the Pelicans can learn from the Embiid scenario is that yes, it will take time for Williamson to recover. If you think about it, his situation may even be better than Embiid's since Williamson played a relatively good amount of games in his first two seasons.
Perhaps the trick lies in balancing these two views. Yes, there is hope for Williamson to recover, but this does not mean the Pelicans should sit back and wait for things to pan out. Williamson is a generational talent. But placing their entire focus on him may be unfair for the rest of the Pelicans players and their loyal fanbase. So the goal now is to get Zion back to his feet. If the signs do not point to his conclusion, it is time to move on.