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Pelicans’ Zion Williamson set for 5-on-5 drills in practice

Pelicans, Zion Williamson

The New Orleans Pelicans infamously selected former Duke Blue Devils big man Zion Williamson with the No. 1 overall pick in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft. However, the former one-and-done collegiate standout has yet to play even one minute of regulation basketball atop the professional level as Williamson has unfortunately encountered some injury trouble along the way.

Williamson has notably been suffering from an ailing knee since this past offseason. However, his return to the floor seems imminent at this point in the year. As a matter of fact, Williamson and the Pelicans expect him to return to the court by the end of January at this rate.

First, though, Williamson will need to ramp up his rehabilitation step by step.

While many initially believed that the Pelicans were deliberately tanking in the absence of Williamson, that does not appear to be the case now. Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin recently shut down such a notion — in emphatic fashion at that.

“You see the narrative out there that we will intentionally shut him down. Or that they’re idiots for not shutting him down,” Griffin said, via CBS Sports. “Well, which is it? The reality is when he’s ready, he’s going to play.”

As it stands today, the Williamson-less Pelicans sit in second-to-last place in the entire Western Conference in 2019-20. The only team that the 12-win Pelicans have managed to remain ahead of in the Western Conference standings is the ailing Golden State Warriors, who have won just nine games all year.