Pelicans' Zion Williamson Withdraws from USA Select Team for FIBA World Cup

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 22, 2019

New Orleans Pelicans' Zion Williamson (1) smiles during the team's NBA summer league basketball game against the New York Knicks on Friday, July 5, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Steve Marcus)
Steve Marcus/Associated Press

New Orleans Pelicans rookie phenom Zion Williamson has withdrawn from the USA Basketball Select Team ahead of training for the FIBA World Cup, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium:

Williamson is the seventh player to pass on participating with Team USA, joining Bradley Beal, James Harden, Anthony Davis, CJ McCollum, Eric Gordon and Tobias Harris, who reportedly dropped out about the same time as Williamson.

Meanwhile, Marc Stein of the New York Times reported that Kemba Walker and Khris Middleton intend to represent the United States at the FIBA World Cup:

It isn't a shock that the top overall pick from this year's NBA draft will skip the event. Williamson played just half a game in the NBA Summer League, scoring 11 points before he was shut down after colliding knees with a New York Knicks player.

The Duke product did have some highlight moments, including ripping the ball away from Kevin Knox before finishing with a slam dunk:

But the 19-year-old also looked fairly out of shape. That's not surprising given his obligations leading up to the draft, as Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski noted.

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"No, I thought really he never should've played just because he's been on this circuit of awards, the ESPYs, everything," he told Adam Zagoria of Forbes. "I don't think he's in the playing shape or the mental shape to play."

The Pelicans are likely happy he'll work on his game with them this summer rather than participate with Team USA. Getting back into playing shape will be a priority, but the Pelicans also have legitimate playoff aspirations after adding Williamson, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, JJ Redick and Derrick Favors this offseason, among others.

That's a lot of talent to combine with Jrue Holiday, but it will take time for chemistry to develop. Williamson's decision to stay home will help, even if it's a disappointment for Team USA fans.

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