Pelicans Hopeful for Williamson's Return
The New Orleans Pelicans are reportedly hopeful that star player Zion Williamson will return to action before the regular season comes to a close, with the two-time NBA All-Star pick having been out of action since January 2nd with a troublesome sprained hamstring.
The Pelicans sit just outside the play-in tournament places after an up-and-down season that sees Willie Green’s side sat on a 33-36 regular season record. Since losing Williamson, New Orleans has struggled for form and could well use the presence of the 22-year-old in the closing weeks.
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New Orleans is 17-12 in games Williamson has been involved in this season, as opposed to 16-24 in those he wasn’t, and that stat tells you all you need to know about the importance of the player.
As for a likely imminent return, Sam Amick at The Athletic reports;
“While the Pelicans announced on Wednesday that he would be re-examined in two weeks, a source with knowledge of the situation said the team is still expecting him to be ready before the end of the regular season. When it comes to injury recovery, there is perhaps no more unpredictable player in today’s NBA than Williamson. Nonetheless, significant hope remains that he’ll be healthy in time to be a late game-changer.”
Clearly, it’s important that the Pelicans don’t rush Williamson back, as we are talking about a player that has suffered from real injury issues in the past. In the off-season ahead of the 2021-22 season, he suffered a Jones fracture, which resulted in his missing the entire season.
In July last year, he signed a new five-year extension worth a reported $193 million guaranteed, and he made his long-awaited court return last October and is rightly considered one of the best prospects in the NBA.
Williamson has missed 60 percent of games since his NBA debut, and therefore any return needs to be well-managed by the Pelicans.
Pelicans head coach Willie Green cuts a confident figure in terms of his side’s hopes this season; when asked about any concerns he may have about missing out on the play-offs he responded simply;
“I don’t have any concern about the way it’s going. We’ve just got to continue to stay together, keep working and let the chips fall where they may.”
Having won just eight of the past 28 games without Williamson, one wonders if Green’s confidence is something of a facade, though obviously, there would be little to benefit from a more honest assessment of the situation from the 41-year-old.