NBA

What Happened to Zion Williamson and Why Isn’t He Playing for the New Orleans Pelicans?

Zion Williamson has missed more games for the New Orleans Pelicans in his first year and change with the team than fans have liked. The star 20-year-old played just 24 games in his rookie year after undergoing knee surgery before the season. Williamson has played in all nine of the Pelicans’ games this season, but he won’t be on the court Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Zion Williamson has impressed in his second NBA season

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Williamson exceeded the lofty expectations placed on him in his rookie campaign last year, and he’s been just as impressive this season. The athletic forward is averaging 21.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game in 2020-21.

Williamson has been incredibly efficient and consistent in his sophomore season. He’s shooting 55.7% from the floor, and he’s scored at least 20 points in six of his nine starts. The only area of Williamson’s game that is leaving a bit to be desired is his 3-point shooting. The lefty has only attempted two total threes in nine games this year, and he hasn’t made one to date.

Williamson led the Pelicans to a 4-2 start to the season, but New Orleans has dropped three straight games heading into Wednesday night’s tilt against the Clippers.

The NBA has been hit hard by COVID-19

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Coming out of the Orlando bubble to play a full season in the middle of a global pandemic was a daunting task for the NBA. The league no longer had full control of its coaches and players, so positive COVID-19 tests and postponements of games were a near certainty entering the year.

The NBA had a successful start to the 2020-21 season, but the last week hasn’t been kind to the league. On Saturday, the Philadelphia 76ers had to play their game against the Denver Nuggets with just seven available players due to COVID issues. The next day, the game scheduled between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics was postponed because of positive coronavirus tests from both teams.

Wednesday night will mark the fourth straight night in which at least one game has been postponed. The 76ers, Celtics, Heat, Mavericks, and Wizards have all had issues with COVID-19 in the past week, and the Pelicans are the newest team to run into some trouble.

Why isn’t Zion Williamson playing for the Pelicans?

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When the Pelicans take the court in the Staples Center Wednesday night, Zion Williamson won’t be with the team. He will miss the game under the NBA’s health and safety protocols, New Orleans announced earlier today.

Williamson returned an inconclusive COVID-19 test leading up to the primetime game against the Clippers, and he didn’t receive the results of a second test in time to be cleared for the game.

It’s unclear at this time when Williamson will be cleared to play for the Pelicans on their current road trip. New Orleans is scheduled to play the Lakers in LA on Friday night.

All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference