How Zion Williamson, a player for the New Orleans Pelicans, has been preparing for his comeback following a season-long injury

Posted By: ericlevine On:

A FEW HOURS PRIOR TO THE NEW ORLEANS PELICANS’ PLAY-IN GAME HOSTING THE SAN ANTONIO SPEARS, Zion Williamson and assistant coach Teresa Weatherspoon took the court.
Williamson through some simple shooting and dribbling routines, but he saved the best for last.
Williamson received the ball on the baseline with his sights fixed on the rim late in the exercise. Williamson exploded and spun in the air two steps in, the ball by his side. He released a windmill jam as he turned around and returned to the rim.

Williamson’s evening ended there. He missed the whole regular season because of a fracture in his right foot, thus he was forced to watch as his team unexpectedly advanced to the postseason.

After beating the Spurs and the LA Clippers to secure a first-round matchup against the top-seeded Phoenix Suns, a team that had a 3-16 record found themselves as the No. 8 seed. Williamson supported his side while wearing casual attire as Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum, and the Suns took the series to six games.

Though the season ended in a first-round exit, rookie head coach Willie Green’s team had plenty to celebrate. McCollum and Ingram looked like a pair of veterans poised to capitalize on the late-season momentum. A trio of rookies — Jose Alvarado, Trey Murphy III and Herbert Jones — took on significant playoff minutes.

However, concerns about Williamson’s future in New Orleans lingered after a second disappointing campaign. On July 1, he would be eligible to sign an extension to his rookie deal. Williamson participated in 85 games throughout the course of his first three seasons, including 24 as a rookie and 61 in his second. He missed some time in his rookie season due to a torn meniscus, but in 2020–21, he was largely healthy, missing only 11 games due to two different hand problems.

When questioned about Williamson’s deal, Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin responded, “And clearly that dialogue is going to be one that will be a difficulty.”

“We’ll have that when the time comes. And right now, we’re concentrating on him being healthy and in basketball-playing shape, so we’ll start there.”

There was no doubt about the talent. There was no availability. This summer, Williamson and those around him set out to put such worries to rest while also very visibly expressing the former No. 1 overall pick’s dedication to the Pelicans franchise and the city of New Orleans as a whole.


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