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Report: Zion Williamson to miss weeks to begin regular season

New Orleans Pelicans All Access Practice

METAIRIE, LA - OCTOBER 16: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans works out during an all access practice at Ochsner Sports Performance Center in Metairie, Louisiana on October 16, 2019. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

The Pelicans ruled out No. 1 pick Zion Williamson from their final exhibition game tonight with “right knee soreness.”

That was more than a minor preseason injury being treated with an abundance of caution.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

“Severe” is in the eye of the beholder. A multi-week absence isn’t isn’t catastrophic, but it sounds “severe” to me.

This is a blow to New Orleans and the league.

The NBA planned to aggressively market Williamson, whose high-flying/powerful dunks and other highlight plays draw fans. The Pelicans play four of their first five games on national television. Ratings will be lower with Williamson sidelined.

Williamson is more than just a highlight machine. He’s a good overall player who helps put New Orleans in the playoff race. The margin for error in a loaded Western Conference is so low. This absence could really bite the Pelicans.

Because Williamson has such a distinctive skill set and body type, putting complementary players around him could be challenging. New Orleans has many varying pieces and enough talent to remain somewhat competitive without him. But the process of determining how this team best fits together just hit a major roadblock.