The Pelicans are optimistic that Zion Williamson will be ready to make his NBA debut sometime in January, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (video link from Stadium). The No. 1 pick is due to start practicing shortly after the start of the new year.
The organization has been extremely careful with Williamson since the meniscus injury that required surgery in October. He was originally given a six- to eight-week prognosis to return, but the Pelicans have delayed that as they take precautions to minimize the risk of further injury.
Charania adds that there has been an “education process” for the team and for Williamson to get him physically ready for the rigors of an NBA schedule. At 6’6″ and 285 pounds, he arrived in the league with a unique body type and Pelicans officials have been working to change his eating habits and the way he moves on the court.
Williamson could provide a huge boost to a New Orleans team that has edged its way back into the playoff race with four straight wins. Entering today, the Pelicans are still in 14th place, but are just 3 1/2 games behind the eighth-place Spurs.
Williamson looked like a potential star in the preseason, averaging 23.3 points and 6.5 rebounds in four games while shooting 71.4% from the field.