New Orleans Pelicans star forward Zion Williamson left Tuesday night's play-in game against the Los Angeles Lakers early due to what the team initially described as “left leg soreness.” After the game, it was revealed that Williamson was dealing with a hamstring injury and would undergo further tests. Now, facing elimination in the 8-seed play-in game against the Sacramento Kings, Zion will be unavailable due to this injury, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The former first overall pick will be re-evaluated in the coming weeks.

In their 110-106 loss to the Lakers in the 7-seed play-in game, Williamson recorded a season-high 40 points on 17-of-27 shooting. He also finished the game with 11 rebounds and five assists. This was the first 40-point, 10-rebound game of Zion's career.

With Brandon Ingram working his way back from a knee injury that sidelined him for over three weeks, Williamson has been the catalyst for the Pelicans' offense. His absence will severely limit the Pelicans, who initially entered the Western Conference play-in tournament as the 7-seed.

The Kings enter Friday night's play-in game against New Orleans after recently knocking the Golden State Warriors out of playoff contention. Sacramento scored 118 points and shot 18-of-39 (46.2 percent) from three-point range. Without Zion, and Ingram still working his way back from injury, the Pelicans' offense looks very suspicious heading into this elimination game. Trey Murphy III figures to be a big part of their game plan heading into this critical matchup.

What Zion Williamson's injury means for Pelicans

Zion Williamson looking sad
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries have been the Pelicans' downfall in recent years. After making the playoffs and putting up a fight with the Phoenix Suns in 2022, New Orleans has not been back in the playoffs. With Zion now out, their chances of claiming the 8-seed and a date with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs have dropped significantly.

Out of all the players on the Pelicans' roster, Williamson was actually one of three players to play in at least 70 games. This marked the first time in Zion's career that he had eclipsed 70 games played in a season.

Williamson actually remaining healthy and available for New Orleans gave this organization hope that they would be able to make it back to the playoffs and actually compete with the best of the best. Now, with Williamson ruled out against the Kings, their mindset completely changes.

In four games against the Kings this year, Zion averaged 23.0 points, 5.8 assists, and 4.5 rebounds while shooting 65.6 percent from the floor. He eclipsed 25 points in three of the four games against Sacramento.

The Pelicans will now turn to an assortment of players alongside Ingram and veteran guard CJ McCollum to hopefully overcome the Kings in the 8-seed play-in game. Murphy, Larry Nance Jr., and Dyson Daniels will all see their roles and minutes increase with Williamson out.

Should the Pelicans defeat the Kings, there are no guarantees that Williamson will be available at any point in their potential first-round series against the Thunder.