Zion Williamson's rookie season is off to an unfortunate start. After looking flat-out dominant at times in the preseason, the New Orleans Pelicans sat out the final preseason tune-up game due to knee soreness. It turns out the problem was much worse.
Early on Monday afternoon, the team announced that Williamson underwent knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks. Here's more from the team's official press release:
Zion Williamson underwent successful arthroscopic surgery today to address a torn right lateral meniscus. The routine debridement was performed by Dr. Jason Folk with assistance from Team Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Misty Suri.
The timetable for his full return to play is estimated at six to eight weeks.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Williamson entered the league as the most-hyped prospect since LeBron James, and perhaps one of the most intriguing of all-time. It didn't take him long to show why the Pelicans didn't think twice about taking him with the first pick.
He put up 16 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals in his preseason debut, and over his first four preseason games averaged 23.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals on an astounding 71.4 percent shooting from the field. His combination of strength and athleticism is rare for anyone in the league, but certainly for someone with his physical build.
As this news reveals, however, he may be a bit too explosive for his own good. If there's any silver lining for Williamson and the Pelicans, it's that as far as knee surgeries go, it can be much worse than a meniscus repair. Still, it goes without saying that this is a frustrating way to start the season.
According to SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh, the Williamson injury will cost the Pelicans over three wins, and lowers their chances of making the playoffs by nearly 20 percent, which shows just how important he already is to the team.
With healthy Zion
After their busy summer, which along with drafting Williamson included trading Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and a plethora of future draft assets, and signing a number of solid veterans, the Pelicans entered the season as one of the most interesting teams to watch. The excitement only built after Williamson's incredible showing during preseason. Now, all of that positive energy has been zapped.
Hopefully, when he returns in a couple of months, Williamson will look like his old self, and can restore the good vibes in New Orleans.