Zion Williamson suffers setback, could doom New Orleans Pelicans’ playoff hopes

NBA New Orleans Pelicans Zion Williamson (Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports)
NBA New Orleans Pelicans Zion Williamson (Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports) /

Zion Williamson reportedly suffers a setback that could ultimately doom the New Orleans Pelicans’ hopes of making the playoffs.

Roughly six weeks ago, On December 30, the New Orleans Pelicans were 23-12. They had the best record in the Western Conference and the second-best record in the NBA. Things were clicking and the Pelicans were beginning to look more and more like a potential dark horse contender in the Western Conference.

However, since then, the Pelicans are just 6-16. As you would expect, the Pelicans are no longer first in the West. They have fallen all the way to seventh and are just one game over .500. Even though they’re just 1.5 games back of the fourth seed, they’re also just 1.5 games back of 12th in the West.

A big reason for their disappointing play recently is due to an injury suffered by Zion Williamson. Zion last played in a game on January 2 and has missed the tea’s last 20 games. And according to a recent report, he has suffered a setback that could force him to miss even more time. He’s not expected back before the NBA All-Star break and may not return until after March.

The New Orleans Pelicans may struggle to make the playoffs without Zion

It’s a shame that Zion is expected to miss even more time considering that he was having such a great season in fueling the Pelicans before his injury. Zion was averaging 26 points, seven rebounds, and five assists on 61 percent shooting from the field.

More than anything, he was beginning to show promise as a leader and had the Pelicans playing some really good basketball even as some of the other players on the roster, including Brandon Ingram, battled their own injuries.

However, there is only so much the Pelicans could overcome. And it’s become quite clear that an injury to Zion is not one of the situations that this team is equipped to overcome so quickly.

Looking at the landscape in the West, if Zion doesn’t return quickly, there’s a good chance that this could ultimately doom the team’s playoff chances. With the likes of the Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, and others making improvements at the NBA Trade Deadline, this is a conference that got better and will only be that much more competitive.

Considering that the Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors, and Los Angeles Lakers are all behind the Pelicans in the standings, teams that are expected to make a real push up the standings the final push toward the playoffs, there’s a very real chance that the Pelicans will miss out on the playoffs completely.

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And if that does end up happening, it would be quite a shame. After the first 35 games, the Pelicans looked like they had turned the corner as a franchise. To go from that to possibly missing out on the playoffs entire would be a massive step back.