While there isn’t an official date set for Zion Williamson’s highly anticipated NBA debut just yet, New Orleans Pelicans vice president David Griffin said on Friday that he’s extremely happy with the progress the No. 1 overall draft pick has made in his rehab so far this fall.
Williamson, Griffin said, is “getting better literally every day.”
“He’s progressing exactly as we hoped he would,” Griffin told ESPN New Orleans 100.3 on Friday.
“We’re really optimistic, and most importantly, Zion is really excited and that’s where we want him to be.”
Williamson underwent arthroscopic surgery in his knee to repair a torn right lateral meniscus in October. He missed the Pelicans’ final preseason game due to knee soreness, and has yet to suit up for them officially this season. Williamson was given a six-to-eight week recovery window after the surgery, and Griffin thinks they are still “on target” to hit the eight-week mark — which would put his return in mid-December.
The 19-year-old spoke with reporters for the first time since his surgery earlier this month, and said he felt like he was “getting stronger day by day.” He also urged fans not to panic after New Orleans’ 1-6 start to the season without him. Things have since turned around for the Pelicans, as they’ve won five of their last seven games.
Griffin said that the team will “err on the side of caution” with Williamson’s return, and that they will put him through a series of tests first to make sure he’s fully recovered before allowing him to actually take the court.
While it hasn’t been the start to the season that Williamson or the Pelicans had hoped for, Griffin said he’s been incredibly impressed with the basketball knowledge Williamson has shown throughout his short time in New Orleans — something that has made the rehab process much easier.
“The physical part is easy for him,” Griffin said, via ESPN. “He has an incredibly high basketball IQ. He loves being a teammate and getting better. He’s really rare among truly elite young players in that he enjoys the process of getting better. He loves the process of learning the game.”
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