Will the Pelicans’ Zion Williamson play again this season?
Despite his obviously incredible talent, the Pelicans star has struggled to stay healthy and at the end of the day that’s the most important thing in sports.
The good news is the Pelicans can still make the playoffs. The bad news is that they will have to achieve the feat without their biggest star. Assuming they can do that, there’s a good chance he will be able to join them when they get going in the postseason.
Zion Williamson won’t return to Pelicans for Play-in Tournament
According to an announcement from the New Orleans Pelicans, star forward Zion Williamson is not expected to return before what is almost certain to be a play-in tournament appearance next week. On Thursday, the Pelicans announced that the 22-year-old would continue in rehab for his injured hamstring, with updates to come as the team deems necessary. To be clear, the 2019 No. 1 overall pick has now effectively been ruled out for the last few games of the regular season, however, there is real hope that he could return for the playoffs, should the Pelicans manage to secure themselves one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference.
Now sitting on a record of 41-39, the Pelicans are in eighth place in a stacked Western Conference playoff picture. That being said, New Orleans has managed to secure a place in next week’s Play-In Tournament. They are now one game behind both the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors with two games to play, meaning they can still - with a little luck - clinch a top-six spot and in turn automatic qualification for the playoffs.
What’s the deal with Zion Williamson?
If you’ve been following, you’ll know that it’s been a tough time - to say the least - for Williamson over the last few years. From a foot injury to complications with his recovery, Williamson has quite literally spent less time on the court than off it since entering the league. Most recently, he strained his hamstring while running down the court on a fastbreak during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers back on January 2nd. At the time of the injury, the team stated that they expected him to be back in three weeks, however, by the time he experienced a significant setback he was already way past that timeline. At that point, reports suggested that the Pelicans were hopeful that he could return in time for the playoffs, but with the above-mentioned updates that’s not a certainty.
And what about the New Orleans Pelicans
Quite frankly, the loss of Williamson was a blow that the team simply couldn’t cope with. When Williamson initially went down with injury, the Pelicans had a record of 23-14 and were just one game behind first place in the West. Once he was ruled out, things went from bad to worse i.e., an injury to their other main man, Brandon Ingram, only compounded the problem. Indeed, as their form dipped there was even a 10-game losing streak such that by the time March rolled around, they were on a record of 33-37.
To their credit, the Pelicans have corrected course since those dark days and after an 8-2 run they are now more less assured of a play-in spot. Over and above that, the team has shown they can play ball without Williamson on the court, but it goes without saying that they are a completely different team when he is. Before his latest injury, Williamson was averaging 26 points, seven rebounds and 4.6 assists per game, while shooting 60.8% from the field. Those are serious numbers and his All-Star game starting spot was evidence of the idea though he couldn’t play due to injury. At this point, the Pelicans - like the rest of us - can only sit, hope and wait.