Zion Williamson Won't Play for Pelicans vs. Rockets Because of Hamstring Injury

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 3, 2023

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) moves the ball down court in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks in New Orleans, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. The Bucks won 128-119. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

New Orleans Pelicans head coach Willie Green confirmed star Zion Williamson will miss Wednesday's home game against the Houston Rockets.

The dynamic forward was forced to exit the team's 120-111 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday after suffering a right hamstring strain. While the injury typically isn't a long-term issue, the immediate concern was that he'd be on the shelf for a stretch of games.

Nate Duncan @NateDuncanNBA

Right hamstring strain for Zion and he won't return. My rule of thumb is if a player has to leave a game with a muscle injury during the regular season it's at least a 2-week injury.

And that was bad news for the Pelicans considering he has taken another step forward in 2022-23. Through 29 games, he's averaging 26.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists while shooting 60.8 percent from the field.

When healthy, Williamson is every bit an All-Star and fully worth the five-year, $194.3 million extension that goes into effect next season. But the hamstring injury added to the stop-start manner of his NBA career so far.

The 2019 No. 1 overall pick was limited to 24 games as a rookie before missing 11 games in 2020-21. Then he was out for the entirety of the 2021-22 campaign because of a lingering foot injury.

The Pelicans have shown their trip to the 2022 playoffs was no fluke. At 23-14, they sit third in the Western Conference.

Brandon Ingram is enjoying his most efficient year shooting. Herbert Jones continues to build on his promising rookie season. CJ McCollum and Jonas Valančiūnas are providing both solid production and invaluable leadership.

But New Orleans' hopes of improving upon a first-round exit hinge on Williamson. He needs to be healthy and at his best in order for the franchise to take the next step.