Williamson to miss out on opening week
The new season kicks off in less than a week, and the New Orleans Pelicans will be without their star player Zion Williamson. The power forward suffered a foot fracture in the summer, and although he showed some progress, Williamson remains a few weeks from running and on-court individual work. There is no timetable for his return yet.
There were some debates about how Zion’s body has changed in recent months. He went from muscular to massive in a short span. It concerns the fans that the star player entrusted with the keys to the franchise could suffer career-altering injuries due to added heft and weight. It’s no secret that big men always suffer from injuries to their knees and feet - the idea is to reduce the pressure, not increase it.
At only 21 years old, Williamson already had several significant injuries. Despite world-class trainers, and nutritionists monitoring his diet, the end result depends on Zion. Being a franchise guy is a 24/7 commitment, and Williamson obviously still has room to grow in that department.
New Orleans Pelicans must have a long-term plan for Zion
Zion’s greatest asset is his rampaging drives to the basket that no one in the league could stop. He can score at will from anywhere in the paint. The incoming third-year player had a streak last season where he put up 20-point games on 50 percent field goal shooting, breaking Karl Malone and Shaquille O’Neal’s long-standing records.
If the Pelicans decide to change how they use Zion, they should mold him into a traditional big. He’s been handling the point guard duties at times for New Orleans, and it proved to be successful. Still, if they want to preserve him for the playoffs, they need to lessen his usage and just utilize him in areas where he can provide the best result without inflicting more damage on his body.
The Pels are starting the season with games against perceived contenders such as the Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, and Phoenix Suns. Brandon Ingram must hold the fort while Zion recovers - Williamson could be a month or two away from playing his first game in the 2021-2022 season.
For now, he needs to have enough time to heal. The Pelicans can use this time to recalibrate how they plan to use what could be the biggest offensive force the league has seen in a while - if he keeps the weight off.