Lakers and Warriors playoff hopes just got a big boost at Pelicans expense

LeBron James, Stephen Curry, NBA (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
LeBron James, Stephen Curry, NBA (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Both the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors are battling for a spot in the playoffs, and both teams received some good news that will aid their efforts. It appears that New Orleans Pelicans superstar Zion Williamson may be out even longer than expected. Williamson has been out since January 2nd with a hamstring injury which he aggravated on February 12th. Adrian Wojnarowski recently provided an update on Williamson:

The wording Wojnarowski used is particularly interesting, suggesting that he’ll simply be reevaluated in two weeks and not necessarily be ready to play. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst also shared that he heard that Williamson was “not close,” suggesting that he could be out even longer, perhaps for the remainder of the regular season, which ends in less than a month.

How this affects the Lakers and Warriors

If Williamson is indeed out for longer than two weeks, the Pelicans’ chances of making the play-in tournament or the playoffs take a huge hit. They are only 9-21 since he went down on January 2nd, and that terrible stretch without their star has caused them to drop from a top-four seed to clinging to the 10th seed in the play-in tournament. That’s opened the door for teams such as the Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Utah Jazz to potentially overtake them.

Even still, the Lakers and Pelicans are tied in the standings, while the Warriors are ahead by just two games. The Pelicans continuing to struggle increases the chances that the Lakers make the play-in tournament and lessens the likelihood that the Warriors get overtaken by New Orleans.

Considering that Golden State can’t seem to win on the road but still has 9 road games remaining, this news shouldn’t be taken for granted, even though they are currently 5th in the West. The Lakers also have the added benefit of potentially keeping their own pick since New Orleans wouldn’t swap their lottery pick for the Lakers, who could also be in the lottery if they fail to advance in the play-in tournament.

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All in all, while the news that Williamson will be out for at least two more weeks is a devastating blow for the Pelicans, it’s a win for the Lakers and Warriors. With less than 20 games remaining for all three teams, this may make or break their seasons.