The latest update regarding Zion Williamson’s injury from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN should be regarded as good news.
A severe injury has been ruled out for Zion Williamson’s right knee, but he is expected to miss period of weeks to start regular season, league sources tell ESPN. Pels are clearly treating injury with an abundance of caution but there’s no shortage of confidence on full recovery.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 18, 2019
While it’s unclear on what exactly happened and how much time he’ll miss, the last thing the New Orleans Pelicans fan base wanted to read was Zion miss most, if not all, of this upcoming season due to a major injury that could possibly also zap some of his otherworldly athleticism and abilities.
According to Malika Andrews of ESPN, head coach Alvin Gentry believes Zion sustained the injury back in the Oct. 13th preseason game against the San Antonio Spurs. The fact that nothing was detected during or immediately after that contest plus he didn’t miss a practice in following days shows the difficultly everyone had in detecting the trouble in the first place. Thankfully though, the issue was discovered before something much, much worse transpired and his recovery could have been measured in months, not weeks.
As for who steps up in Zion’s absence, there are several candidates. His spot in the rotation could go to one of three players — Brandon Ingram could slide down to the four or Kenrich Williams or Nicolo Melli could enter the starting lineup. If Kenrich shows the confidence and ability of knocking down the outside jumper, he’s my bet. The coaching staff probably doesn’t want to move Ingram, who is still getting himself right after a sustained rehab period, to the four and unnecessarily putting more on his shoulders. While Melli would likely fit well offensively — he can shoot and make good decisions, guarding opposing starters and oftentimes chasing them around the perimeter doesn’t sound like a recipe for success.
At the end of the day, each member of the Pelicans is going to have to step up because a formidable schedule is staring the team right in the face.
16 of the Pelicans' first 20 games are against teams that made the playoffs last year.— Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13) October 18, 2019
Granted, 3 of those are OKC but they also get both LA teams, Houston, Golden State, Denver, Utah and Portland.
2 of the 4 non-playoff games are against much stronger Heat and Mavs teams.
Fortunately for Gentry, the team has displayed the best depth of his entire tenure during preseason action. While now would be a good time for Jrue Holiday to back up David Griffin’s MVP talk and for Ingram to grab the bull by the horns and be the team’s leading scorer, everyone is going to have to play a role. JJ Redick is going to have to be a reliable sixth man. Derrick Favors and Lonzo Ball have chances to carve out greater roles. And among the reserves, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Josh Hart and the players directly filling in for Zion have a golden opportunity to seize a spot in the regular rotation.
It sounds like the Pelicans dodged a major bullet with the latest news regarding Zion Williamson’s injured right knee. The question now is, can New Orleans band together and keep their playoff hopes alive in a tough Western Conference while the future face of the franchise tries to return to full strength?