Zion Williamson is a puzzle that no one can seem to figure out yet. He's built like a defensive end, can jump out of the gym like Vince Carter, yet, he hasn't been able to consistently showcase his unique gifts, because he's always finding himself on the sidelines.
His injury history is well documented. From high school, to college, to summer league, to preseason, to minutes restrictions and now sitting out against the Wizards for rest in the Orlando bubble, his time on the court has been anything but consistent.
Some, myself included, worry about the long term effects his huge frame and freight train like power will have on his career. Then there's Dr. Brian Sutterer who tells The Athletic that Zion is in "a race against his own body."
“If you go watch his Duke highlights compared to now, the difference is profound. In my opinion, his athleticism and conditioning have regressed substantially. He’s less explosive, less conditioned, slower on defense, has already had a portion of his meniscus removed from his knee after an injury, and he’s still under close monitoring from the medical staff.”
Now, that's one opinion of one doctor, but still, an alarming thing to hear. It's clear the Pelicans have concerns in Williamson's ability to stay healthy based on their efforts to limit his minutes per game. But how long will this last? Will that always be the way they have to handle his playing time?
Far too often we've seen players' careers get cut short or limited because their body just won't cooperate. The more frustrating part is that when Williamson is on the court, he's still physically dominating. Even with his limited range and lumbering style of play, defenses just can't slow him down.
There was no way the Pelicans weren't taking Zion No. 1 overall, but it came with significant risks. Risks that we're seeing play out in Orlando. He's looked at as the future of the league, a household name by 18-years-old, but will he be able to reach his full potential?
Only time will tell, and for the sake of the NBA and it's fans, let's hope he doesn't fall short.
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