Zion Williamson, the New Orleans Pelicans #1 pick in the 2019 NBA draft, went under the knife today. The 19-year old power forward had a torn meniscus repaired in his right knee. The surgery will keep Zion out for the next 6-8 weeks, delaying the inevitable celebrations on Bourbon Street.
While he has yet to play a single game in NBA, this injury casts concern about Zion’s career. This is his third knee injury in his short career, and given his size and the pressure he puts on his knees, he needs to tread lightly through his recovery. Zion could be something very special. It would be awful to see him have a career perpetually stunted by injuries.
The potential long-term effects
It makes me think of Derrick Rose. The former #1 pick, and current Detroit Pistons guard, has led a career hampered by lower body injury after lower body injury. One of the main reasons he has consistently seen the injured list is how hard he plays. He gives 110% at all times. Not to say other players down, but the intensity at which he drives has weakened his knees and ankles, making it more difficult for him to recover quickly.
Many fear Zion could face the same kind of fate. It’s going to be crucial for head coach Alvin Gentry and the training staff to manage him properly and not let him overdo it. Manage his minutes early on, and make sure he’s adapting to the pro game at a comfortable pace.
Life without Zion
New Orleans went through preseason without losing a game, and get ready to kick off their season in Toronto tomorrow night against the NBA Champion Raptors. For a team that won the Zion lottery with the #1 pick, they don’t actually look as though they’re going to stay at the bottom of the league. Sure, the preseason gives simply a small window into what we could expect from a team, however this young squad could put up quite the fight this season.
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