Woj: Zion Williamson Nearing Pelicans Debut, Knee Is 'Healthy' After Injury

Blake SchusterContributor IJanuary 4, 2020

Injured New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson smiles as he jokes with fans while waiting on the team bench for the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019, in Denver. The Pelicans won 112-100. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The Zion Williamson era is close to taking off with the 2019 No. 1 overall draft pick reportedly healthy enough to make his NBA debut. 

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on NBA Countdown that Williamson will get a few more practices in before he's officially in the lineup.

"They want him on the floor a few more times, and then they're going to bring him back," he said. "The knee is healthy. The meniscus is healed. The playing weight is where they expected it to be and want it to be."

Williamson suffered a right lateral meniscus tear during the NBA preseason and has been working his way back to the court ever since. It's been more than 10 weeks since Williamson had surgery, which is notably longer than the six-to-eight week recovery window originally provided for his return. 

It makes sense that Pelicans are being cautious with their franchise player. The transition to the NBA is tough enough on a rookie without a history of injury—Williamson infamously suffered a Grade 1 knee sprain at Duke after bursting through his shoe in a game against North Carolina. 

New Orleans is 11-23 and ahead of only the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference, so the urgency isn't necessarily to contend but to grow into a unit that will. That starts with Williamson's health.

The former Blue Devils star is one of the most hyped prospects to enter the NBA in the last decade, with his combination of size (listed at 6'6", 284 lbs) and skill at forward allowing him to create mismatches across the floor. The hope is the Pelicans' patience is quickly rewarded. 

New Orleans starts a two-game road trip against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday before facing the Sacramento Kings on Saturday. That sets up a home game against the Utah Jazz on Monday night, which is looking like a strong candidate to become Williamson's first regular-season NBA game. 

 

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