Williamson was one of the most eagerly anticipated rookies in years, but he played just 19 games before the hiatus because of a knee injury that delayed his debut until late January. He was placed on a minutes restriction at the time, but it was removed after a few games. Gentry said the team’s medical staff will re-evaluate Williamson and several other players if a restart date is announced for the season.
“It will be something that we talk about when we do resume and as far as how it looks for Zion from a minute standpoint, and we’ll do that really with some of the other players,” Gentry said. “This is unprecedented, really. You play in a basketball game, you play 60 games and then all of a sudden the season ends, and then now it’s going to start back up. So, this is going to be something that is different for every single player that has ever played in the NBA or is playing in the NBA now.”
Although fans in New Orleans only got a brief look at Williamson, he lived up to expectations by averaging 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per night while shooting 58.9% from the field. He helped the Pelicans overcome a slow start and inch their way toward playoff contention by the time the season was halted.
“I still think that in all the years that I’ve been in the league, I’ve never seen anyone that has a second jump like this kid,” Gentry added. “It’s amazing how he can hit the ground and be back up before anyone is really reacting to the first move that he had. I would say that’s been a pleasant surprise in those areas right there. I think what we found out is that he’s an excellent passer, also. I think as he gets more comfortable handling a basketball, that’s going to be an area that everyone sees that he can be an elite guy from the position that he’s playing right there.
“He’s such a good guy, just from a teammate standpoint, that I knew our guys would be pulling for him. Our guys have embraced the fact that he’s a guy that we can finish games with, he’s a guy that we can go to when we need a basket, and he’ll make the right play.”