Zion Williamson will make his long-awaited NBA regular-season debut on Wednesday night, and it sounds like the New Orleans Pelicans will not set a strict minutes restriction at the onset. Not only that, Williamson is expected to be in the starting lineup against the San Antonio Spurs.
There has long been a belief that the Pelicans, after exercising extreme caution with the team’s No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft following his preseason knee injury, would put a minutes restriction on Williamson as the team eases the rookie back into playing. That will not be the case, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN.
That said, the Pelicans will nevertheless monitor Williamson’s time on the court, as the team hopes to keep his time on the court in the range of 15-20 minutes.
Also in here: plan is for Zion Williamson to start on Wednesday night.— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) January 21, 2020
Pelicans want to play him in short bursts and he won’t have a hard minutes restriction. Still expect him to be closer to 15-20 mins instead of 30-35. https://t.co/ms3tIoQAUf
It makes perfect sense that the Pelicans want to start Williamson, despite his 44-game layoff due to an extended rehab following surgery on a torn meniscus. That being said, there is also no reason to put too much pressure on the rookie, hence the plan to monitor his minutes early on by easing him back into the rotation.
Last week, Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin mentioned how the team has its hands full in attempting to responsibly manage the rookie’s growth and development. Griffin made note of how the “not normal” Williamson somehow managed to put on eight pounds of muscle during a team-wide, offseason weightlifting regimen that lasted only one week.
Given the myriad factors such a unique talent like Williamson presents, expect the Pelicans to adapt their plan for the young star as the situation evolves during his rookie season.
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