Xi’s delay of Siberia pipeline signals limits to his embrace
Zion Williamson injury update: Will Pelicans star forward play this season?
Pelicans forward Zion Williamson has yet to take the floor this season. The Pelicans caught everyone by surprise on Media Day when Executive Vice President David Griffin announced that Williamson received offseason surgery to repair a fractured right foot.
Every update thereafter seemed to be a negative one, with Williamson suffering a setback in November which required an injection in his foot in December. He was ruled out through the All-Star break in early February, then it was reported he would be rehabbing away from the team in early March.
With the regular season drawing to a close, will we see the Pelicans’ young All-Star take the floor this year?
Here’s everything we know below.
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What is Zion Williamson’s injury?
It was revealed during Pelicans’ Media Day that Williamson underwent surgery to repair a fractured right foot during the offseason.
The Pelicans were initially hopeful that he would get back on the court in time for the regular season, but that was before a couple of setbacks.
With less than a week remaining in the season, we still have not seen Williamson make his 2021-22 season debut.
When will Zion Williamson return?
On March 5, the Pelicans announced that Williamson had rejoined the team from his rehabilitation in Portland, Oregon, and he was cleared to progress in basketball activities.
This was the first positive update we’ve seen on the Williamson front this season, but on March 21, there was more bad news. According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Williamson “is not expected to return to play this season.”
Charania added that Williamson “is making progress toward on-court work,” but with only 11 games left in the season, it left an “improbably tight window for Williamson to complete the team’s ramp-up stages ranging from one-on-zero to five-on-five scrimmaging.”
Williamson has been attending Pelicans home games and has “appeared to be in positive spirits around teammates and coaches,” according to Charania.
While it is unlikely that we will see Williamson take the floor this season, the 21-year-old took to Instagram to post an athletic between-the-legs alley-oop finish on Tuesday, March 22.
MORE: Pelicans’ Zion Williamson posts between the legs alley-oop dunk on Instagram
On Wednesday, March 23, head coach Willie Green shared an encouraging update that Williamson had been cleared to do 1-on-1 work, which he was spotted doing with Pelicans player development coach Corey Brewer.
Shaky footage of Zion dunking against Corey Brewer. pic.twitter.com/o0p45q96pJ
— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) March 23, 2022
In an interesting turn of events, Williamson’s stepfather said on April 5 that he still expects the one-time All-Star to play this season.
“I expect him to play,” Lee Anderson said. “If you were to ask Zion, I’m sure he would probably say the same thing. But with just a couple of games left, with the magnitude of what’s going on in New Orleans and the opportunity to qualify for the play-in game and possibly get into a seven-game series, that would be off the charts in the city of New Orleans. That would be a plus in New Orleans. That would be a plus for Zion with the way things are right now.
“Do I expect him to play? Certainly I do. That’s on me, though. That’s purely me. I don’t think there’s anything else that would hinder him from doing that right now.”
His stepfather may have been on to something, because on April 7, head coach Willie Green confirmed that Williamson participated in “controlled scrimmages” with assistant coaches and players.
That’s the closest Williamson has come to full practice participation this season, showing signs that the All-Star forward could potentially still take the court with the Pelicans qualifying for the Play-In Tournament.
How many games has Zion Williamson missed?
Williamson has played a total of 85 games through three NBA seasons after being selected No. 1 overall by the Pelicans in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Despite the low number of games, Williamson has appeared in more games than former No.1 overall pick Greg Oden did through his first three seasons in the NBA. He’s also appeared in more games than Joel Embiid did through his first three seasons in the league.
At just 21 years of age, Williamson has a long runway to get back on the court and have a successful career that will live up to the hype.
Pelicans’ playoff picture
Even without Williamson, the Pelicans have emerged as a potential playoff team after a blockbuster trade at the deadline for star guard CJ McCollum has paid dividends.
New Orleans started the season with an ugly 1-12 record but has completely turned its season around, sitting in ninth place at 35-44.
McCollum has been nothing short of incredible since joining the Pelicans, averaging 25.7 points, 6.1 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game. Alongside star forward Brandon Ingram and an interior force in Jonas Valanciunas, the Pelicans are starting to build an intriguing core for Williamson to join whenever he does return to the court.
The Pelicans are on track to face the Spurs in the first round of the Play-In Tournament.