The New Orleans Pelicans are set to face the Oklahoma City Thunder in the play-in tournament on Wednesday, Apr. 12. However, if they were hoping to have All-Star forward Zion Williamson join them, they’ll be sorely disappointed.
In fact, Zion is set to miss more than the play-in game against the Thunder.
If the Pelicans should advance to the 2023 NBA Playoffs, it’s actually unlikely that New Orleans would have Williamson at any point in the first round, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
“I think right now,” begins Charania, “what’s holding back Zion Williamson is that the hamstring might be closed to healed or feeling good. But from a conditioning perspective, he has not been — from what I’m told — able to bridge that gap between his conditioning, his basketball shape, you know, everything that goes into being Zion Williamson.”
“Being [6-foot-6], the frame that he has, conditioning is always something he’s gotta watch and his conditioning is just not there. From what I’m told, the Pelicans believe he’s not even close to getting back on the floor.”
“His conditioning is just not there. From what I’m told the Pelicans believe he’s not even close to getting back on the floor… There’s no expectation from the Pelicans that he will be on the floor at any point in the first round of the playoffs.”@ShamsCharania with the latest… pic.twitter.com/dlf3I3Mjcs
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) April 10, 2023
The Pelicans will face the Denver Nuggets in the first round if they beat the Thunder and then defeat the loser of the matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
In light of the recent news coming out of Minnesota though, that could very well mean they would face the Timberwolves.
No matter who their opponent is, Williamson will be missed until he returns. While players like second-year forward Trey Murphy III have stepped up in his absence, there’s rarely a singular player that can replace an outright dominant force that averaged 26.0 points per game on 60.8 percent shooting.
The numbers that Zion can put up with ease, when healthy.
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