Greg Oden offers advice to Zion Williamson after injury-riddled start to career
New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson endured a somewhat scary injury to start his NBA career, much like others before him that have had a similar fate. Among them is Greg Oden, who was also a former No. 1 pick who endured a series of knee injuries upon making the NBA, ultimately resulting in a quick departure from the pros.
Oden played only 105 games over six years, three of which he didn’t play at all. Oden was part of that notable 2007 NBA Draft Class that produced gems like Kevin Durant, Al Horford, and Mike Conley Jr.
All the aforementioned are still playing and making hefty checks, yet Oden, who was the victim of a series of debilitating knee injuries, never got to experience that at all.
The now-retired Ohio State star gave the Pelicans rookie some words of advice to keep in mind as he closes out his first season upon returning from a meniscus tear.
“Have fun! Enjoy every minute of it, but also make sure that you’re understanding what’s going on,” Oden told Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. “Make sure that you’re taking advantage of the situation that you’re in. Have meetings with these owners, talk to the mayor of New Orleans and get in those rooms. Build that brand of Zion while you’re the man right now. Really, the biggest thing that I want to say to him is take advantage of this. But have fun. Don’t take yourself or all of this noise too seriously. Enjoy it! Also, realize that you put the work in and you deserve this, and keep on working to get even better.”
While some former No. 1 overall selections never quite made the splash they should have (Michael Olowakandi, Kwame Brown, Anthony Bennett), some others have bounced back from injuries in their first year (Ben Simmons, Blake Griffin) to have strong, successful careers.
Williamson is in line to shatter all of those and perhaps plow through the record books at this pace, averaging 22.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in his first 12 games with the Pelicans.