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Zion Williamson received treatment at Pelicans’ practice facility during shut down

Zion Williamson

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - MARCH 06: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans reacts against the Miami Heat during a game at the Smoothie King Center on March 06, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. 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. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

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Zion Williamson missed 45 games to start the season due to a torn right lateral meniscus. His recovery saw the Pelicans reworking how Williamson moved, improving his flexibility, changing the way he landed on jumps, even changing his walk in an effort to reduce the chance of future injury.

That recovery work continued at the Pelicans practice facility during the league shut down, reports Christian Clark at the Times-Picayune.

[Pelicans vice president of basketball operations David] Griffin said the Pelicans received special clearance from the NBA so Williamson could continue receiving treatment at the team’s practice facility in Metairie while it was closed down...

“As you guys know, the flexibility aspect with Zion was really critical, so they’ve been able to continue to focus on that,” Griffin said. “They weren’t able to do any court work during that period of time, but they were able to get the work in needed on the table, and so that was important. We’re grateful that the league allowed for that.”

If the NBA returns with regular season games — officials with the league office hope to, but every option remains on the table — Williamson would be ready to go and could play.

In the 19 games he did play, Zion was a force who lived up to the hype, averaging 23.6 points per game on 58.9% shooting, plus pulling down 6.8 rebounds a game. His athleticism and aggressive attacking of the rim opened up the rest of the Pelicans offense, and they started to look like a playoff team. New Orleans was just 3.5 games back of Memphis for the final playoff spot when play was suspended — and the Pelicans had a much easier schedule the rest of the way.

What matters for the Pelicans is not making the playoffs this season, but building on what started going right in those 19 games. It’s about what happens next season and beyond. Working with Zion to continue both his recovery and the steps needed to prevent future injuries during the break could be an important part of that.