It has been few months since New Orleans Pelicans’ rookie forward Zion Williamson underwent knee surgery, which put a cloud over when he would be on the court this season. In the time since then, Williamson has continued to make significant progress in his recovery from the injury, which has continued to build on the growing notion that he will be on the floor this year. There now appears to be a return date finally circled for the Pelicans to have their prized possession in the fold.
Zion Williamson’s injury
In the days before the start of the 2019-20 season, Williamson was declared out for a few weeks due to right knee soreness that he suffered in the preseason against the San Antonio Spurs.
That quickly transpired to him, requiring surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee that would keep him out of action for six-to-eight weeks. Williamson has progressively recovered from the ailment that has now extended a bit past the original timetable as the Pelicans don’t appear to be rushing to get him back on the court.
Nonetheless, the 19-year-old hasn’t experienced any setbacks during the process, which has seen go through pre-game workouts more routinely over the last couple of weeks. It has included being able to throw down some powerful dunks along the way with a between-the-legs jam that has caught much attention.
All of that has now put forward an exact return date for Williamson to make his official NBA debut.
When will Zion Williamson return?
Throughout the recovery process, the Pelicans have walked the cautious line with laying out when Williamson will be back in the fold.
However, it has become quite difficult to imagine that timeframe being much further down the line after he’s throwing down monstrous dunks and is back in practice. According to Mitch Lawrence of SiriusXM NBA Radio, the Duke product is expected to make his season debut on Thursday night against the Jazz.
That would put Williamson at missing precisely the midway point of the regular season. There hasn’t been clarity around this being the date of his return, but it certainly falls in line with the increased activity that he has been going through in recent days.
New Orleans will likely continue to handle the situation with quite carefully given his importance to their long-term future well beyond this season.
What to expect from Zion Williamson
Regardless of whether this is the official return date or not, it’s clear that Williamson isn’t far off from being back on the court for the Pelicans.
It’s a process that the Pelicans have kept a close eye on, and will continue to do so once he’s playing again. Head coach Alvin Gentry has already laid out that Williamson will be taking the floor in limited minutes from the get-go so that his body can get used to game action in a progressive manner.
That should see the team avoid playing him in both parts of any back-to-back sets in the schedule. Keep in mind; the Pelicans do have eight games over the remaining 16 days of January, which may see the team elect to rest him at some point if deemed necessary.
It has been a long time coming for Williamson, which makes the entire recovery that much more crucial that the team isn’t rushing him back before he’s entirely ready. Beyond that, there is a great deal of excitement to see Williamson on the court and see how he can perform at the next level with the hope that he can prove his play can match the hype as a potential star player in the league for years to come.