On the eve of opening night in the NBA, the New Orleans Pelicans received devastating news. Zion Williamson, their coveted rookie, underwent knee surgery and will miss the first six to eight weeks of the NBA season. The injury occurred on October 13 in a preseason game versus the San Antonio Spurs. The news sent shockwaves throughout the NBA. The Pelicans will be a part of opening night, facing the Toronto Raptors. In addition, they are due to be on many nationally-televised games this season. How will Williamson’s injury affect the Pelicans, the NBA, and himself?
The Pelicans Become Less Imposing
Williamson’s outstanding play in the preseason added onto the Pelican’s hype. They looked to be more dynamic and dangerous. Willamson’s skill set and physicality were set to give opponents nightmares. Now, the Pelicans look less formidable. The dream scenario of Lonzo Ball lobbing passes to Williamson is on hold. Also, the Pelicans lose a player who was capable of guarding multiple positions. More pressure will be placed onto Brandon Ingram, who has been buried in conversation. In order for the Pelicans to stay on course, he must become a dominant scorer. But, they still are a rising team and they have enough talented players to compete.
Rookie of the Year is Wide Open
Williamson was the heavy favorite to win Rookie of the Year. However, his injury spells opportunity for other rookies in his draft class. The rookies have a window to showcase their talent. All focus will shift to Ja Morant, the second overall pick of this year’s draft and Michael Porter Jr., who is set to play after sitting out last season. In addition to Morant and Porter Jr, RJ Barrett, Darius Garland, Tyler Herro among others will enjoy a brighter rookie spotlight.
Zion Williamson Will Make Adjustments
Willamson’s physical play and highlight dunks are what fans look forward to seeing. When he returns, many will expect him to play the same. However, his injury might propel him to make adjustments. This is his third time injuring himself. He suffered an injury the spring at Duke and in Summer League play along with this latest one. When he returns, Williamson could take more jump shots. The biggest thing he should tackle is his weight. Currently, he weighs 285 pounds, which is a lot for someone of his height (6’7″). With today’s NBA being a faster-paced game that requires players to do more, he must drop at least 20 pounds. Williamson will not lose strength. He will take the pressure off of his knees. If Zion doesn’t watch his weight, he will occur more injuries in the future, which could hurt his chances of becoming the next superstar.