The return of New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson for postseason play appears to be getting closer, with Williamson reportedly ramping up his rehabilitation.
Shams Charania of The Athletic looked at a variety of NBA stories and noted how Williamson’s progress in getting back could be expedited.
“Meanwhile, in New Orleans, Zion Williamson is expected to ramp up toward a possible return during the playoffs for a Pelicans team seeming to head that way,” Charania wrote.
“I’m told he’s recently been playing low-intensity 3-on-3 with some coaches. Williamson is getting some scrimmage work in but still needs to progress in 5-on-5 practices and deal with contact before being cleared to play.
“Sources say the team will remain cautious with him and won’t rush or pressure the process simply because the playoffs are near.”
Williamson has been out since January because of a hamstring injury. That issue was just the latest setback in what thus far has been an injury-plagued career.
Presently, the Pelicans are in a position to take part in the play-in portion for the postseason. At 40-38, they currently have the same record as the Los Angeles Lakers for the seventh-best record in the Western Conference.
The jockeying for postseason position is such that the Pelicans could conceivably avoid the play-in portion by winning the team’s remaining four games. That’s because five teams are separated by two games or less.
Getting Williamson back would give the Pelicans a major boost. since he’s played in only 29 games this season. That was after missing all of last season due to a foot injury, which led some fans to be critical of him.
When on the court, Williamson has offered ample evidence of why he was the top overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft. In those 29 games this year, he’s averaged 26.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.1 steals per game.
A number of reasons exist why the Jazz are being patient by not rushing Williamson back as soon as possible. The most obvious is that, given his injury history, they want to avoid having him re-injure himself.
In addition, Williamson won’t turn 23 until July, so he has plenty of time to get healthy again and deliver on the promise the Pelicans envisioned.
Finally, the likely playoff position where the Pelicans eventually land doesn’t offer a great deal of hope for a lengthy playoff run. Thus, rushing Williamson as quickly as possible makes no sense if the team is eliminated in either the play-in portion or the playoffs.
The next three of the Pelicans’ last four regular season games are at home. However, those games will be against a trio of playoff teams: the Sacramento Kings, Memphis Grizzlies and New York Knicks, respectively.
Navigating through that rough stretch will be difficult and will have to be done without the services of Williamson. The hope is that his rehabilitation progress advances even more soon.