The New Orleans Pelicans could not have gotten off to a worse start in the bubble. Not only have they lost their first two games since the season got back underway, but Zion Williamson left the bubble for a few days for a family emergency and is playing on a minute restriction. He wasn’t on the floor during crunch time in the team’s first game back against the Jazz and simply hasn’t looked himself since games inside the bubble began.
After scoring 13 points in 15 minutes played against Utah, Williamson only played 14 minutes against the Clippers adding just seven points and five rebounds in a 23-point loss.
Whether he’s out of shape or battling some sort of unknown injury, something is up here. The Pelicans are desperately trying to stay in the hunt in the West and take the No. 8 seed away from the Grizzlies, but they’re running out of time all while not playing the superstar rookie.
It makes no sense, and Dan Patrick agrees. In fact, he had a segment on Monday’s show discussing the idea that if New Orleans isn’t going to play Williamson, the team should just send him home.
“If you want to have him with the team that’s great but if you’re not gonna play him then just send him home,” Patrick said. “He just doesn’t look like he is in shape. He is explosive but he doesn’t look comfortable out there. Play him or don’t have him there.”
Reps for Williamson or any rookie for that matter are a good thing, but we’re in unprecedented times right now where the risk really isn’t worth the reward of simply ‘getting in reps.’ This is already a player in Zion that’s battled his fair share of injuries and was reportedly taught new ways to walk and run earlier this season.
There is a reason the Pelicans, who are 28-38 on the year, still have a shot at a playoff berth and that reason is that the NBA wants to see Williamson in the postseason. If the Pelicans sneak into the No. 8 spot they’d likely play the Lakers in round one of the postseason, aka the perfect scenario for the NBA with Zion taking on LeBron James.