Zion Williamson's Game Praised by Doc Rivers Ahead of Pelicans vs. Clippers

Blake SchusterAnalyst IIAugust 1, 2020

New Orleans Pelicans' Zion Williamson, left, shoots over Utah Jazz's Georges Niang during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, July 30, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

Add Doc Rivers to the Zion Williamson fan club.

The Los Angeles Clippers head coach became the latest NBA personality to rave about the New Orleans Pelicans rookie, telling ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk ahead of Williamson's first game against L.A. on Saturday: Forget the basketball up front, I just love his demeanor, his personality... very skilled. Terrific passer."

While the Pelicans and Clippers are meeting for the fourth time this season, Williamson was held out of the first three contests while rehabbing from a preseason knee injury. 

Just how much Rivers will get to see Williamson on the floor Saturday is one of the matchup's biggest questions. 

Following advice from the Pelicans' medical team, coach Alvin Gentry limited the forward to 15 minutes Thursday against the Utah Jazz—sitting the star for crucial minutes down the stretch in a 106-104 loss.

Williamson finished with 13 points and one assist while shooting 6-of-8 from the field.

Considering the perilous state of the Pelicans' playoff position, the rookie's minutes restriction may determine whether New Orleans earns a postseason berth. The club is 3.5 games back of the eighth playoff seed, with just seven games to play. 

Pelicans executive David Griffin told reporters inside the league's bubble that Williamson's status remains dependent on his ability to stay in a rhythm on and off the floor:

"The medical team wants to make sure he's warm and loose before he gets on the court. Everything that they are doing is predicated on that. The players have a very clear routine. His routine is to get loose at a certain time. We don't want him to get loose and then sit on the side and wait, because that's not conducive to him playing his best."

That doesn't mean Williamson has to agree with his club's plan for him. 

Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes said on The Dan Patrick Show on Friday that Williamson was "pissed" about the restriction. 

Saturday provides another opportunity for the Duke product to prove he's ready to return to regular minutes.