New Orleans Pelicans forward, Zion Williamson, has exited the Orlando bubble due to a family medical emergency. It is unclear what the emergency is or when he is expected to return to campus. Zion was a part of practices this first week and is a crucial part of the Pelicans squad, which will be making a push for the playoffs in the bubble.
Shams Charania of The Athletic wrote on Twitter.
The Pelicans have followed up with a statement addressing Zion’s departure. Pelicans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, David Griffin has extended support to Zion and chosen not to comment on the situation out of respect for Zion’s family.
The New Orleans Pelicans have made a strong playoff push after Zion debuted for them in January. Zion averaged 23.6 points on 58.9% from the field for his first 19 games. He had a hot-start from three in his debut, which has led to his three-point percentage to be 46.2%. He was averaging 6.8 rebounds and even dished out 2.2 dimes a game.
There are multiple reasons as to why the Pelicans need Zion for the 8 games before the playoff. First, the team improved noticeably after Zion debuted. In December, the Pelicans went on a 12-game losing streak which saw them comfortably out of the playoffs. Zion helped surge the team back into playoff contention.
Second, his play-style is as unstoppable as it gets in the modern NBA. Only players like Giannis or LeBron have the athleticism to pull off what Zion pulls off. His highlight reel speaks for itself.
The Pelicans have one of the easiest schedules in the bubble. Their final six games are against opponents that are eighth-seeded or under. This strength of schedule means that the Pelicans will be looking to qualify, even if Zion isn’t there.
The 2019 number-one overall pick is expected to return to the team eventually, but the timeframe on that is not clear. He will quarantine for at least 10 days whenever he returns to the bubble. The Pelicans are hoping that he returns sooner rather than later, as they need to make up 3.5 games to catch Memphis for the eighth seed.
Get notified about breaking news and watch highlights on the go; join the Arena on NBA Hoops