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Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson takes ‘big first step,’ but still ‘ways away’ from playing

Zion Williamson, Pelicans

New Orleans Pelicans prized rookie Zion Williamson has taken a “big first step” in his recovery from his knee injury, according to Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin.

Griffin highlighted that the Duke product is now “fully weight bearing” on his knee, which is a significant step in his journey to his NBA debut. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean Zion will play soon, as he is still “a ways away” from playing.

To recall, Williamson had surgery on the meniscus in his right knee on Oct. 21. The initial timetable of his return was at six to eight weeks. Monday was the end of that initial timetable, yet Williamson has yet to return to practice with his teammates.

Williamson, the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, was one of the most hyped NBA prospects in the last few years. As such, he was expected to play a pivotal role for the Pelicans this season. He was seen to form a solid young core with Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, with veteran guard Jrue Holiday leading the pack.

The Duke standout played in four preseason games where the Pelicans went 4-0. He averaged 23.3 points and 6.5 rebounds as fans and critics were in awe of his oozing talent. More than his sheer athleticism which most have seen in his lone year in Duke, what surprised analysts is his basketball IQ.