Why the Pelicans should make this call on Zion Williamson
Zion Williamson is an extraordinary talent, being in the top 15 or maybe even the top 10 players in the NBA. He led the New Orleans Pelicans to a 23-13 record by January 2, but he hasn’t played since because of injury. Now the Pelicans are 36-37 and in free fall at the Western Conference.
Year Thirty Eight gives New Orleans – which ranks ninth in the West – a 25% chance to generate post-season. Before Williamson got injured, the Pelicans’ chance was above 90%. Williamson’s absence was the biggest reason for the Pelicans to consider handling the #1 overall pick before.
“Part of ability,” as the saying goes in sports, “is availability.”
However, in the past two seasons. Williams played 29 games. During his career, he played 114 of the 328 possible games (34.7%) with New Orleans. With him playing, per StatMuse, Pelicans are 57-57. Without him, they are 76-109.
Availability and reliability go hand in hand. Based on the data, Williamson is not reliable.
While some might argue that it’s too early for New Orleans to get rid of Williamson, it may be too late if he’s going through an injury season like this one again. If he has another season without playing at least 40 games, his value on the open market could drop dramatically.
Williamson’s upright and downhill play, combined with his size (6 feet-6, 284 pounds), puts him at high risk of injury. The lower body wasn’t built to support all the force and constant pressure Williamson put on it.
Here’s why the Williamson trade could be in New Orleans’ best interest.
“Can you trust him to be your franchisee? No,” said former NBA player Kendrick Perkins speak recently on ESPN’s “First Take”. “You can’t believe he’s going to be around.” Perkins favors the Williamson trade.
In 39 games this season, Williamson has averaged 26 points, 7 rebounds and 4.6 assists and has a 60.8% shot rate. His numbers are certainly enough to garner significant interest across the league. But GM David Griffin must act quickly.
In 2019, Griffin dealt Anthony Davis, another injury-prone player, to the Lakers for a massive fortune.
Maybe he can do it again… before it’s too late.