When it comes to the Pelicans, everybody knows what they’re about. After trading Anthony Davis for young studs, they found a few gems. But the real star is Zion Williamson, and they can only go as far as he takes them.
So when Williamson played only 15 minutes in New Orleans’ loss to the Utah Jazz, it came as a shock to many within the community. As for Zion, he wasn’t a fan of the lack of playing time either. In fact, in an appearance on The Dan Patrick Show, Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes said Williamson was “pissed.”
The Athletic’s Sam Amick published a follow-up report, claiming that Williamson’s health was the driving force behind the decision to sit him.
Yet according to a source with knowledge of the Pelicans’ reasoning on the Zion Williamson choice, there is crucial context here that had everything to do with the decision. Williamson, whose unique combination of linebacker size and incredible torque require so much caution as the Pelicans prioritize the bigger picture here, had practiced in a five-on-five setting a total of only four times since the league was shut down on March 11 because of COVID-19.
As good, hungry, and healthy as Zion seems, the Pelicans don’t want to risk injuring their star. His size and weight have been a huge area of concern since he entered the league and many believe it’s only a matter of time before something in his body gives.
Unfortunately, the Pelicans’ latest loss has set them back to four games behind the Grizzlies for that eight spot and continuing to limit his minutes going forward may come at the expense of making the playoffs this year.
It seems the Pelicans have a decision to make. And while they seem to be prioritizing their future, perhaps they should consider what Zion wants before determining how long to put him out there on the floor.