The 2019 No. 1 overall pick underwent surgery in October for a torn meniscus, which kept him out until January.
Williamson didn't disappoint in his debut, dropping 22 points and grabbing seven rebounds in a 121-117 defeat to the San Antonio Spurs on Jan. 22. He scored 17 straight points during a three-minute stretch of the fourth quarter.
That game also showed how the Pelicans are taking every precaution with the rookie phenom. Alvin Gentry took him out of the game with five minutes, 23 seconds remaining in the fourth rather than extending his playing time more than what had been recommended by team trainers.
While fans obviously want to see Williamson play without any minutes restrictions, Gentry has said New Orleans is firmly looking at the bigger picture.
That holds even more true with the NBA resuming the 2019-20 season following a lengthy hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many are left wondering whether staging games now—a time when many players are enjoying their offseason—could increase the risk of injury.
The Pelicans face a delicate balance between managing Williamson's workload and maintaining their push for a playoff berth.
Williamson's health will take priority. For every game he's absent, though, New Orleans risks slipping further out of the postseason race.