Pelicans’ Zion Williamson speaks out on playing only 15 minutes vs Jazz
In their first seeding game against the Utah Jazz on Thursday, New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson played a mere 15 minutes. Concerns about his health and conditioning were behind the move, but Williamson shut these worries down.
Per Ben Golliver of The Washington Post, Zion Williamson shared that him playing limited minutes is a way to slowly get back his rhythm. In their 106-104 loss to the Jazz, Williamson chipped in 13 points and one assist. All-Star Brandon Ingram led the team with 23 points, followed by JJ Redick’s 21 markers, and Jrue Holiday’s 20 points.
Pelicans’ Zion Williamson, kept to 15 minutes in bubble opener, said he hasn’t suffered any medical setbacks & added that sitting during crunch time isn’t solely due to conditioning. “It’s just getting my flow to the game back… I don’t want to hurt my team more than I helped.” pic.twitter.com/uK7FROHrW7
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) July 31, 2020
Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry admitted that they wanted to play Zion Williamson longer. However, the medical team reminded Gentry of the allowed minutes per game for the rookie.
Pelicans Coach Alvin Gentry on Zion: "Of course we wish we could've played him down the stretch, but we used the minutes that were given to us and that's the way it is. The medical people said we played them in the minutes that were allowed for us to play him, and just move on."
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) July 31, 2020
To recall, Zion Williamson tore his meniscus on October 13, 2019 and underwent surgery. He made his NBA debut in January against the San Antonio Spurs. While he showed great promise in his professional debut, the Pelicans stuck to their guns in limiting his minutes. There have been lingering concerns on his weight, particularly on how it might negatively affect his knees.
From the looks of it, even after the four-month hiatus, the Pelicans are still not taking any chances. Zion Williamson is their prized asset, along with the Pelicans young guns Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram. The Pelicans have a chance to make the playoffs — which will greatly help the team’s resolve in the future. But as Gentry reiterated in previous interviews, they aren’t going to take extreme measures to burst their way into the postseason and make a deep run.
The priority is the health and well-being of their players, especially Zion Williamson.
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