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Zion Williamson Won't Return for Pelicans vs. 76ers After Suffering Hamstring Injury

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 3, 2023

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - DECEMBER 19: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans reacts against the Milwaukee Bucks during a game at the Smoothie King Center on December 19, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson was forced to leave Monday's game against the Philadelphia 76ers due to a right hamstring strain.

He had 26 points, six rebounds and seven assists in 28 minutes on the floor.

Any injury to Williamson is usually cause for alarm among Pelicans fans considering he only played 85 games in his first three NBA seasons combined. The 2019 No. 1 overall pick missed the entire 2021-22 campaign because of a foot injury.

The forward has been healthier this season, although he has missed time because of a hip injury and foot contusion, as well as two games while in the health and safety protocols.

Williamson has thrived when on the court, averaging 26.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game while shooting 60.2 percent from the field.

The 22-year-old earned an All-Star selection during his only healthy season, averaging 27.0 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in 2020-21. Even after the missed time, he is once again a dominant presence and a legitimate MVP candidate for the surging Pelicans.

New Orleans could still remain cautious with the player who signed a five-year, $194 million max extension in the offseason.

Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum can handle bigger offensive roles with Williamson unavailable, while Naji Marshall could see extra playing time at forward.