The New Orleans Pelicans will host the Chicago Bulls tonight without the services of Jrue Holiday (left elbow contusion) and possibly Kenrich Williams (right lower back spasms) as well, but I examined this matchup thoroughly enough in the preview. Thus, I want to give my quick two cents worth on the potential return date for Zion Williamson.
We’ve seemingly been getting regular glimpses and updates regarding Zion almost daily for several weeks now (btw, can we give the New Orleans Pelicans organization and specifically David Griffin credit for being as transparent as crystal clear glass once Williamson began doing light workouts on the basketball court?), and he’s scored higher and higher each time out according to my tailor-made to each player dunk points system.
For those unfamiliar with this highly complex evaluation process — haha, I’ve got jokes! — it basically compares how much post-injury Zion resembles pre-injury Zion. In other words, if he’s tearing down rims like so few can, his return must be around the corner!
Elevation, check. High degree of difficultly, check. Swin Cash and Jaxson Hayes sitting nearby on the bench WHO WERE COMPLETELY UNFAZED BY THE EVENT, check! (Doesn't it seem this duo was just a little TOO casual about Zion’s throw down, as if they’ve seen it enough times of late???)
Anyway, we know that the Pelicans want Zion to go through several 5-on-5 sessions cleanly before allowing him to make his regular season debut. Consequently, his return date would appear to best coincide with the next home stand barring any complications because the team needs to field another practice or two and that task will not be completed until then. So either a Jan. 16th date against the Utah Jazz or Jan. 18th versus the LA Clippers makes the most sense on paper. However, Jen Hale’s tweet from Monday has sat in the back of my head since I laid my eyes on it.
Today's @PelicansNBA 4-on-4 featured 3 assistant coaches & Zion vs 1 asst coach, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Jahlil Okafor & Nicolo Melli on a closed bowl inside the SKC. Zion was fired up afterward! Griff wants Zion to have several 5-on-5 sessions before returning, if possible.— Jennifer Hale (@JenHale504) January 7, 2020
Did you catch the last two words: if possible?!? Does that mean the multiple 5-on-5 sessions policy does not require the strictest of adherences???
Hehe, it may be something, it may be nothing, but when I read that and then added it to the last several weeks of observations, where Zion has looked stronger and stronger athletically each time out, could his return date be closer than we all assume?
To cut to the chase, I’ve circled a date against the New York Knicks this Friday — that’s about 48 hours from now — as a possibility for his return. (Please don’t come at me with pitchforks if I’m wrong.)
- The game is scheduled to be televised on ESPN in primetime — which one has to think that would make several big-shot executives happy.
- The matchup is against the New York Knicks — a friendlier matchup for the Pels who might be a little concerned about reintergrating Zion back into the lineup when they’ve been playing pretty darn well of late.
- Zion will be reunited on the court with RJ Barrett, his former teammate from Duke — while we should expect the assessment tests to carry the vast majority of weight, I can’t entirely dismiss the fact that Zion said his return will also be based on how he wakes up one morning. You’ve gotta think that he would love nothing more than to battle a good friend inside Madison Square Garden!!!
The logical side of my brain is angry that I spent 600+ words on what’s likely an unrealistic scenario, but sometimes the heart gets the right to dictate. While Zion’s first game at home a little further out satisfies common sense so much more, I’m mysteriously drawn to the Pelicans upcoming date with the Knicks in MSG later this week.
There you have it.
Oh, and also be sure to check out Ben’s detailed article on Lonzo Ball which breaks down his recent tear!
Where To Watch/Listen
What: New Orleans Pelicans (12-25) vs Chicago Bulls (13-24)
Where: Smoothie King Center - New Orleans, LA
When: Wednesday, January 8th, 2019 7:00 PM CST
How: FSNO, NBCH