Updated: Aug 6, 2020
Author: Brice Lourd
Many NBA fans are extremely confused (as well as frustrated) regarding the situation involving Zion Williamson, a.k.a. the NBA’s golden child. In the first two games back from the bubble, Zion’s only logged an average of 14.5 minutes per game, while playing only at the beginning of quarters. In turn, people are all wondering the same question, “WTF is up with Zion?”
As you probably know, Zion left the bubble for almost two weeks right before the season restarted. Due to Zion's absence, the Pelicans have chosen to restrict him of playing time . The Pels have proceeded with caution all season when it has come to Zion’s health, but this has been pretty weird. Guys like Patrick Beverly and Harrison Barnes returned to the bubble and were able to play their minutes like it's nothing.
So why can’t Zion play longer minutes? Pelicans GM David Griffin told reporters that the team doctors are the ones limiting Zion’s minutes due to a soft tissue issue; where Zion needs to ease back into the season to not have problems. While that statement seems valid, I still question the entire thing. Is Zion fully healed? Is it a soft tissue issue? Is he out of shape? Who knows, as the Pelicans' front office and staff have kept everything regarding Zion close to the surface.
There’s a lot of different aspects surrounding the current state of Zion’s place within the rotation. One: The Pelicans are fighting for their lives to get in the playoffs, and without Zion it doesn’t look like they have a chance. If Zion is only going to play 14-15 minutes every night, why even have him out there? He’s not playing well at all as he cannot get into his groove, and all it’s doing is hurting the team even more. In the first two games of the restart, Zion has posted plus-minus numbers of -16 and -17. That is HORRIBLE! In football, they tell you to not tackle someone unless you are going to go into it with 100 percent speed and force. The same goes for basketball. As a fan, I either want Zion out there going to his full extent, or I don’t want him out there at all. Simple as that.
Another way to look at this is from a money aspect. Like I said in my blog from two weeks ago, the NBA scheduled the Pelicans to be on national TV 6 out of 8 games. The reason for this? Zion. If Zion isn’t playing full minutes or to his full extent, ratings will inevitably go down, which hurts the NBA as well as the TV networks airing the Pelicans’ games. Zion is the NBA’s golden child because he is worth a billion dollars in their minds. Without him playing, it hurts them.
The last facet, that is a different approach to the whole thing, is what about Zion the person? These 20-year-old kids deal with so much pressure. Media, fans, teammates, himself… he literally can never have a moment to himself. Zion doesn’t want to be playing limited minutes, but the fact of the matter is that he is limited currently, and no way hearing every media outlet and fan complaining about him and questioning his body feels good. The matter of fact is that it’s probably extremely stressful. He’s a 20-year-old who deals with as much press as the President it seems.
In conclusion, I hope to see Zion play more minutes at some point, and I also hope that he is healthy and that this entire minute’s thing is precautionary. His rookie season has most definitely been one of the weirder ones, and I truly hope none of the next seasons replicate this one.