New Orleans Pelicans

Zion Williamson is out 6-8 weeks and everything is worse now

Bad news turned worse when it was reported Monday that New Orleans Pelicans rookie sensation Zion Williamson will be out 6-8 weeks after knee surgery.

A hush fell over NBA fandom when it was first announced that Zion Williamson would miss the New Orleans Pelicans‘ final preseason game with knee soreness. That hush became a quiet tremor that ran up the NBA’s spine when it became known he would be receiving further testing and would be sidelined for a few weeks, even if the Pelicans were relieved it wasn’t more serious.

On Monday, with news of contract extensions flying left and right, one piece of news hit the NBA smack-dab in the face with the force of a healthy Zion Williamson charging down the lane: We won’t be actually be seeing a healthy Zion Williamson for awhile.

According to the team, the recent No. 1 overall pick underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on Monday to address a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee. Called a “routine debridement,” the estimated timetable for his full return to play is 6-8 weeks.

Missing perhaps the most thrilling and most hyped rookie the league has seen since LeBron James for opening night was already depressing enough, but if he’s sidelined for up to two months, that could put his availability for Christmas Day in jeopardy now too.

Williamson’s health is obviously most important, to NBA fans, the Pelicans and Zion himself. However, it’s undoubtedly a major, major bummer we’ll have to wait even longer for his long-anticipated debut, especially after his time in NBA Summer League was cut short due to injury and his preseason was so mesmerizing.

At Summer League, Zion played one game and exactly nine minutes. He only scored 11 points and added four rebounds in his limited time, but even that briefest of flashes confirmed he was going to be the rookie to watch in 2019-20. He left that game with a bruised left knee, but everyone just assumed it was erring on the side of caution to preserve the foundation of the franchise.

During preseason, Williamson was an absolute force, averaging an absurd 23.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists in just 27.2 minutes per game over his first four contests. Sure, it was a small sample size, and yes, it was only preseason, but the Pelicans phenom made an absurd 35 of his 49 shots (71.4 percent shooting). Not only did he look like the only logical choice for Rookie of the Year, but he looked capable of challenging for an All-Star spot in year one.

Now, those lofty expectations — both for Zions and New Orleans alike — will need to be dialed back again. This isn’t the first time a heralded, highly drafted rookie will enter his first season with injury concerns, and it won’t be the last. Zion’s mix of sheer body mass and athleticism is something we’ve never seen before, but that might be for a reason: 280 pounds is a lot of pressure to put on knees with that type of athletic explosion.

Next: The Step Back’s complete 2019-20 NBA season preview

Hopefully Zion Williamson will recover and this will be much ado about nothing 10 years from now. A pall had already been cast over the new NBA season due to the China situation, but now this is a damper making it even worse for opening night and the next 6-8 weeks of the NBA season — not just for the Pelicans, but for the league as a whole.

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