Report: Zion Williamson in 'Tremendous Spirits,' Has 'Attacked' Injury Rehab

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 1, 2019

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - OCTOBER 28: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans looks on during the game against the Golden State Warriors at Smoothie King Center on October 28, 2019 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 Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

New Orleans Pelicans rookie forward Zion Williamson is reportedly in "tremendous spirits" following mid-October surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. 

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Friday the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft has "attacked his rehab," though it's unclear whether that could accelerate the original timetable of six to eight weeks.

Williamson looked primed to take the NBA by storm during a terrific preseason. He averaged 23.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.5 steals while shooting 71.4 percent from the field in four games.

"This isn't high school or college anymore," Williamson told reporters after his exhibition debut. "You've got to go up strong."

He added: "It was a lot of fun. The first NBA game. It's not going to count against the record. But the first one of hopefully many. I'm glad I could get that one under my belt."

Although it's unclear exactly when the knee injury occurred, it was already his second notable setback since June's draft. He suffered a knee bruise in his first game of the Las Vegas Summer League and was quickly ruled out for the remainder of the tournament.

Last week, Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said during an interview on ESPN he expected Williamson to return before the end of 2019.

New Orleans has built a promising roster with budding young players like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Nickeil Alexander-Walker and veteran leaders led by Jrue Holiday, JJ Redick and Derrick Favors.

Whether that's enough to seriously compete in the loaded Western Conference won't be known until Williamson is back on the floor, and the Pelicans aren't going to take any chance with their new cornerstone.

So, despite the positive progress report, he probably still won't return until mid-to-late December.