Zion Williamson 'Getting Stronger' in Knee Injury Rehab, Comments on Timeline

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistNovember 7, 2019

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson watches the video screen during a player introduction video before an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019. The rookie first round draft pick is recovering from knee surgery and is expected to return to action sometime in December. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

Zion Williamson's eventual return to the court will be one of the NBA's most anticipated debuts in years, and the New Orleans Pelicans rookie is making strides as he recovers from a torn meniscus.

"I do feel like I'm getting stronger day by day," Williamson said Thursday, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN. "The trainers are telling me it's getting stronger and I can feel the difference day by day."

Williamson underwent surgery on his knee before the regular season started and isn't sure yet when he will return to action.

"When [the training staff] feels like I'm back to myself, they'll let me play," Williamson said. "It's as simple as that."

Lopez noted the six-to-eight week recovery timetable Williamson was given would put him on track to return in December. Head coach Alvin Gentry said any suggestion the Duke product would beat that frame and be back in November is "very ambitious."

Making sure Williamson is fully healthy before he takes the floor is particularly important for the Pelicans. He is just 19 years old and their new franchise cornerstone after they traded Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers and drafting Williamson with the No. 1 pick of the 2019 NBA draft during the offseason.

New Orleans has a talented young core in place with Williamson, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart, as well as veteran leaders in Jrue Holiday and JJ Redick.

Some may have seen the Pelicans as potential contenders in the Western Conference with that group, but they are just 1-6 on the season with their star rookie sidelined. They could clearly use his athleticism on the floor as someone who can provide rim-rattling dunks and impressive blocks on the defensive end, but his long-term future takes priority.

"Be patient," Holiday said. "He's 19. Be patient. I've been through some injuries myself. I know how frustrating that can be. Maybe even sometimes feeling like you're on the outside because everybody is playing."

The good news for New Orleans is Williamson is getting "stronger," but it appears his debut will have to wait until at least December.

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