Zion Williamson Has 'Worked Extremely' Hard During NBA Hiatus, Says Pelicans HC

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJune 30, 2020

FILE - In this March 6, 2020, file photo, New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson walks onto the court during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat in New Orleans. A Florida appeals court has granted Williamson’s motion to block his former marketing agent’s effort to have the ex-Duke star answer questions about whether he received improper benefits before playing for the Blue Devils. The order Wednesday shifts the focus to separate but related case between the same litigants in federal court in North Carolina. (AP Photo/Rusty Costanza, File)
Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry isn't concerned about Zion Williamson's conditioning heading into the NBA restart. 

Speaking to William Guillory of The Athletic, Gentry said his star rookie has "worked extremely hard" throughout the hiatus:

"I've seen him a lot and we've talked a lot about things we expect him to do when everyone is back. I think he's worked extremely hard during the time away. I think, to some degree, you'll see everybody a little rusty when we come back because we've been away for so long. But he'll get himself right, and I don't see any reason why he wouldn't pick up right where he left off."

There has been speculation about what Williamson's conditioning would be like coming off an extended layoff, but the 19-year-old has done his best to quiet doubts. 

In an April interview on Twitter with TNT's Ernie Johnson (via ESPN's Andrew Lopez), Williamson explained he was doing everything possible to stay in game shape:

"Honestly, I'm ready now. I've been staying in shape, working on myself and just staying ready. You never know when the time is going to come when they're going to say, 'All right, let's resume.' I don't want to have to look around at my teammates and say, 'Sorry, guys, I'm not ready.' So I'm staying ready for my teammates."

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Williamson missed the season's first three months while recovering from surgery to repair a torn meniscus before debuting Jan. 22. The former Duke star quickly impressed with 23.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per contest in 19 games. 

The Pelicans are among the 22 teams traveling to Orlando, Florida, for the season restart July 30. 

New Orleans (28-36) and the Portland Trail Blazers (29-37) are both 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. The Blazers have a slim lead over the Pelicans in the overall standings based on winning percentage (.439 to .438).

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