Zion Williamson's 2021-22 season didn't go how he would have liked it to go. The New Orleans Pelicans' young star didn't play a single game as he worked his way back from a foot injury, leaving the Pels shorthanded all season long. But they made it to the playoffs anyways and are now hoping that Williamson's return will help them take the next step forward this season.
Zion struggled during his time away from the court
Injuries are tough for professional athletes to deal with, especially when there is a lengthy recovery time. Williamson's timeline continued to get pushed back with each passing month, and it became clear early in the season that it was unlikely he would be able to take the court last season. Add in all the commentary surrounding Williamson's recovery, such as how his weight had ballooned to over 300 pounds, and it was a taxing time for him.
The good news is that Williamson's return to the court appears to be inevitable, which should help the Pelicans greatly this upcoming season. With the 2022-23 season right around the corner, Williamson opened up on his recovery last season, saying he was in a dark place because of everything surrounding his injury and recovery. It sounds like he's ready to return to the court after missing such a lengthy period of time with his foot injury.
"I was in dark places at times, because I couldn't play basketball. I could only do limited rehab things. And then just seeing how the world reacted? It took a lot. It did a lot on my spirit." - Zion Williamson, Sports Illustrated
Zion's experience during his rehab is eye-opening
There was a lot of speculation that Williamson dealt with during his time away from the court, and it clearly took its toll on him. How could it not? Everything Williamson had worked for was being questioned because of something he had no control over. His foot not responding to treatment and rehab wasn't his fault, as he surely would have rather been playing with the Pelicans last season.
For the most part, Williamson has been quiet regarding his rehab, which is part of the reason speculation ran so rampant last season. Many figured that Williamson didn't care enough to end it, but it looks like it weighed on him heavily throughout the season. It shows how challenging returning from these severe injuries can be for athletes.
Luckily for Williamson, those dark days are behind him. He's set to rejoin a Pelicans team that looks much different than the last time he took the court, and they appear poised to make some noise out of the Western Conference this season. How far they go could depend on Williamson, and he sounds eager to return and prove his haters wrong in his return to the court.