Zion Williamson was the most hyped player in the NBA draft since Lebron James in 2004. Williamson was a freak of nature during his lone season at Duke. The 6-6 Williamson had a unique combination of size, power, athleticism, and finesse that made him a media darling throughout the process.
When the New Orleans Pelicans won the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery, the decision to trade franchise player Anthony Davis became a lot easier. Having Zion play in the same frontcourt as AD would have been an interesting prospect but since Davis decided he wanted to go to Hollywood, the Pelicans shipped him out of town.
As expected, the Pelicans picked Williamson #1 overall in the NBA draft. In July, he signed a multi-year shoe deal with the Jordan Brand. The deal was reportedly the richest shoe contract ever for an NBA rookie. Right away, Williamson proved that he was worth the hype and all the dollars that he’s booked to make.
A Sudden Twist
n four pre-season games, Zion averaged 23.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Not to mention the many highlight plays he made in those four games. However, just when we thought that the Zion era had already arrived, a sudden twist happened during the preseason.
Williamson was ruled out of the Pelicans’ final preseason game with a “right knee soreness”. But while many thought that there was nothing more to it, we were wrong. The Pelicans later revealed that Williamson suffered a torn right meniscus. It is believed that he suffered the injury during their October 13 game against the San Antonio Spurs.
The injury isn’t considered serious and he is expected to make a full recovery. The Pelicans announced that Williamson had successful knee surgery on the day before their first regular-season game. Just days after the surgery, Pelican’s exec David Griffin said they are expecting an “early recovery” and called Zion a “genetic marvel”. However, the fact remains that Zion is going to miss a significant amount of time.
Missing Significant Time
Per the team statement, Williamson is expected to miss six to eight weeks of action following arthroscopic knee surgery. With the NBA opening last October 22, a six-week time frame would put Williamson’s return to around December 3, 2019. If the maximum of 8 weeks is to be followed, we should see Zion back on December 17th.
If Williamson returns to action after six weeks, he may make his highly anticipated NBA debut against the Dallas Mavericks on December 3rd. New Orleans then plays Phoenix on December 5, Dallas again on Dec 7, Detroit on Dec. 9, Milwaukee on Dec. 11, Philadelphia on Dec. 13, Orlando on Dec. 15 and Brooklyn on Dec. 17. So any of those dates could be Zion’s potential return date.
Although it’s just six to eight weeks, Williamson will miss at least 20 games if he plays after six weeks. Now that’s a significant number of games missed considering the NBA only has an 82-game regular season. Not only could it affect the Pelicans’ playoff chances ( if any ), it could also affect Williamson’s standing in the Rookie of the Year contest. Williamson was a shoo-in to win the award since he was drafted. Not anymore. He has slid in the current odds board.
Here are the current NBA betting odds to win the 2020 Rookie of the Year.
|Michael Porter Jr.||+2000|
Not the First Time
You might argue that the oddsmakers may be simply overreacting to an injury that isn’t considered as serious. But given Williamson’s history, the bet-makers may be correct on this one because this isn’t the first time that Zion has been injured. After playing just nine minutes in his first-ever Summer League game, Williamson was pulled out of action after suffering a left knee bruise. The Pelicans wanted to side with caution and didn’t let Williamson play another Summer League game after that.
During the first Duke vs North Carolina game last season, Williamson also suffered another knee injury. Barely 30 seconds into that game, Williamson fell awkwardly as his foot exploded off his shoe while making a quick move going to the basket. The injury was declared as a Grade 1 sprain and he would miss three weeks of action. He would return for Duke’s run in the ACC Tournament.
When he was in high school, Williamson also suffered a deep knee bruise that forced him to miss a few months of AAU basketball in 2017. During his senior year, Zion also suffered a foot injury while he had a hand injury that caused him to miss the Nike Hoop Summit and Jordan Brand Classis as a prep player.
Reason to Be Worried?
Zion Williamson is an athletic freak. There is no question about his abilities and his potential to be a star in the NBA. However, if he can’t stay healthy, that will be a problem. He is only 19-year old and his body is still young. I do not doubt that he can recover, physically. But given his size, weight and the way he plays, there may be a reason to be worried.
We’ve seen Williamson use brute force to dominate in high school and college. But the NBA game is much more demanding and more physical. His type of game may not be able to withstand 82 games against bigger rivals. Aside from that, Williamson’s weight has been a topic of conversation. He is listed as officially 6-6 tall while weighing 284 pounds and the latter is intriguing. Based on his weight, he is the second heaviest player in the NBA behind 7-3 Boban Marjanovic. That said, he may be too heavy for his height, or so they say.
However, it’s his size that makes him special. The power, speed, and finesse which he generates with his weight are why we are all in awe of Zion Williamson. If he makes a full recovery, we could be witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime talent. But he has to stay healthy and that is not a guarantee right now.