On Tuesday afternoon, news broke that Zion Williamson had cleared quarantine protocols. What might this mean for the New Orleans Pelicans?
The NBA’s quarantine protocols seem to be working as the league prepares to return to action on Thursday. With no positive tests in the past few weeks and players quarantining after returning from dealing with urgent matters, things seem to be working as designed. So far (fingers crossed, knock on wood). The most recent player to clear his quarantine is New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson.
On Tuesday afternoon, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news that Williamson had in fact cleared and would be available for the evening’s practice.
Williamson was out of the bubble for eight days to tend to an urgent family issue before beginning his quarantine in the bubble, and as a result he may need some time to get back up to speed. As Wojnarowski mentioned in his thread, he’ll have two practices to decide before making a decision on Thursday’s game against the Utah Jazz.
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Zion Williamson’s rookie year didn’t get underway until January, but he was electrifying when he was on the floor. They only went 10-9 in his 19 games, but his stats were nearly game-breaking when he played. The New Orleans Pelicans had a -3.5 net rating when he was off the floor throughout the season, but when he was on, they had a net rating of +10.4.
Rookies are almost never good, and as a general rule they do not impact winning in the NBA. Somehow, however, Zion Williamson made his team 13.9 points better per 100 possessions when he played.
19 games is a small sample, but over any sample whatsoever this number is jaw-dropping.
He averaged 23.6 points in just 29.7 minutes per game and he shot 58.2 percent from the floor. Zion was a bully around the basket and on the boards and was essentially an unfair weapon against all but the biggest and strongest centers the NBA has to offer.
It may take Williamson a while to get back to speed, even if he’s good to go on day one on Thursday against the Jazz. When he’s at full strength and full power, though, he’ll be a fearsome sight to behold for the rest of the NBA.