Monday, July 15, 2019
Mock Draft Monday: Should the New Orleans Pelicans be worried about Zion Williamson's health?
After just nine minutes of action, New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson suffered a knee injury that caused him to miss the rest of summer league. That's right. Nine minutes. On the surface, this may not seem like much of a deal, but if I can be totally honest, I think it's a bit alarming that Williamson is already on the shelf due to injury. Even if it is just for precautionary reasons.
In case you forgot, Williamson's shoe blew up against North Carolina, causing him to miss almost a month of his freshman season at Duke. It felt a bit odd that he was being so cautious, but at the same time understandable given that was a college kid protecting his future. This time around, he can't play that card. He's got a four-year guaranteed contract to fall back on, a shoe deal that is expected to be worth $100M, etc. He should be ready to ball out. The fact that we haven't even hit training camp yet and Williamson is already protecting his future by sitting out is cause for major concern. Especially since we've seen this from him before.
There are two reasons why the Pelicans should be worried about this. The first reason is that Williamson may not really be interested in playing for them. By sitting out of summer league, it could be an early indicator that Williamson views New Orleans as only a temporary home and that as soon as he gets the chance, he's going to leave. If this is the case, the Pelicans have to start thinking about an exit strategy and how to trade him for the maximum amount of assets.
The second reason why the Pelicans should be worried is that Williamson might be fragile. At just 6'7", Williamson weighs a whopping 285 pounds. That's a ton of weight on his joints that he's playing with. If he doesn't slim down and get off the excess weight, he could be looking at a shortened career.
You can accuse me of overreacting to Zion Williamson's summer league injury and that's totally fine. I hope I'm wrong and that there's really nothing to see here. But unfortunately for the Pelicans, you only know for certain what has happened in the past. In hindsight everything is 20/20 but in real time, the future is very much unknown. The Pelicans have a tricky assignment figuring out how to manage their top pick and have to consider this from all angles. If they're not asking themselves these tough questions, they could be in a for a rude shock.
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