by Alex Poletti
Photo by CBS Sports
David Griffin, Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations for the New Orleans Pelicans, announced that the team is eyeing a January 22 debut for Zion Williamson, the first overall draft pick in 2019. Zion tells The Second String that he’s spending the last few days before his debut trying to figure out the best way to pull his hamstring during his first NBA game.
“Of course I’m training hard,” the Duke alum says. “I don’t want to let the fans down. That’s why I’ve been working so hard on pulling my hamstring in the most efficient way possible. I’ll even settle for a sprained ankle. I’m just looking to give the fans what they want: another injury.”
Williamson has been spending countless hours in the gym, attempting to distribute his weight in such a manner that would put too much pressure on his leg, thus forcing a strain. However, he has run into some trouble staying healthy enough to practice so he can get injured live at Smoothie King Center.
“That’s been the hardest part,” the 19-year-old phenom says. “I want to find the optimal way to break the hearts of New Orleans fans everywhere with another injury, but I don’t want to do it during a practice. Thus, I haven’t actually been able to go all out in training. Hopefully visualization and simulated games are enough to get over the hump.”
While he shows incredible promise, Zion’s biggest detriment has been his ability to stay healthy. The first scare came in college when the AP Player of the Year’s shoe burst open, causing a knee sprain. While he was healthy heading into the draft, by the end of the preseason it was clear that he needed surgery, forcing him to miss the first 42 games of the season.
Many expect the 6’6 rookie to be an immediate contributor to a struggling Pelicans team. However, Zion has made it clear that his priority is to take it slow while tending to his injuries.
“I think reinjuring my knee would be a great move,” the South Carolina native says. “But I don’t want to try to do too much too quickly. I’m thinking I start with a hamstring injury, maybe a dislocated shoulder if I’m feeling crazy, and work my way up. I don’t think I’ll be in the right headspace to destroy my knee again until the 60- or 70-game mark.”