Zion Williamson’s Frustrating Recovery Guarantees More Losing for the Hapless New Orleans Pelicans

The New Orleans Pelicans were dealt a harsh blow before the 2021-22 season after Zion Williamson underwent offseason foot surgery. It’s unsurprisingly led to a slow start, falling to one of the league’s worst records. The Pelicans’ outlook just became more concerning after Williamson‘s latest medical update.

Pelicans are off to a disappointing start

Before the Pelicans began the 2021-22 campaign, the team dropped the massive bombshell that Willamson underwent offseason surgery to repair a broken foot.

It marked the second significant injury the star forward has dealt with in his brief NBA career. His absence has led to an extremely slow start, falling to a quick 1-6 hole. New Orleans has struggled on both ends of the floor, ranking 22nd giving up 111.0 points per contest, and 21st with 104.3 points per contest.

Although four of The Pelicans’ losses have come by seven points or less, Williamson not being in the fold has undoubtedly contributed to the team’s sluggish start. All-Star Brandon Ingram continues to serve as the offensive centerpiece behind a team-best 25.0 points per game. Jonas Valanciuas has been a double-double machine averaging 19.4 points and 14.6 rebounds.

Beyond that, the bright spots are few and in between for New Orleans, and the outlook just became more difficult with the latest news concerning Williamson’s health.

Zion Williamson’s frustrating recovery guarantees more losing for the hapless New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans initially hoped Williamson could return for the season opener, but that ship has long sailed.

Instead, it’s forced the team to exercise plenty of patience with the 21-year-old’s recovery. The latest medical evaluation on Monday revealed he’s still weeks away from returning to practice. First-year head coach Willie Green took the optimistic approach, airing that the star forward is showing progress.

“He’s cutting,” Green said via ESPN‘s Andrew Lopez. “He’s doing explosive work. He’s running. He’s getting closer and closer. It’s just one of those injuries where we want to be really diligent, especially with the foot, of being careful when we put him back on the floor at full go.”

Green added that doctors are “encouraged” by the latest medical scans, but the Duke product still can’t participate in practice. The possibility to receive clearance for 5-on-5 drills won’t potentially occur until after the next medical examination in two to three weeks.

Given the sensitivity of the injury, the Pelicans are moving forward cautiously to avoid a setback. Williamson is a central piece of the future, and having him back in the fold is crucial to the team’s success. New Orleans will continue to monitor the situation closely, but it only underlines the difficult rough patches ahead.

Pelicans must prepare for a tough stretch ahead

The latest Williamson news isn’t entirely bleak, but it doesn’t paint an encouraging picture ahead for the next few weeks.

The Pelicans have already slumped down to one of the worst records in the league. The schedule isn’t letting up as New Orleans will face the Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks, Brooklyn Nets, Memphis Grizzlies, Washington Wizards, Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Clippers.

The franchise faces a further slide down the standings that may push them toward looking beyond this season. The Pelicans are struggling defensively, and the caliber of opponents that lie ahead spells several frustrating losses.

It certainly isn’t what the Pelicans envisioned, but it’s the likely disappointing fate.

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