The Pelicans have the future of their franchise — No. 1 pick Zion Williamson — wrapped up in bubble wrap. As they should, this is Summer League, it matters less than what Kanye thinks about Taylor Swift.
Williamson played one half of one Summer League game on Friday night, had some knee-to-knee contact, the Pelicans sat him in the second half and are now shutting him down for the remainder of Las Vegas Summer League. Pelicans VP of Basketball Operations David Griffin made it official.
If these were games that mattered, Williamson probably could play. But they are not, it’s Summer League, no reason to take a risk.
It will come as a major disappointment for fans, who sold out the first weekend of games in Las Vegas primarily to see the phenom out of Duke play. The Pelicans will take on the Wizards tonight at 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. in Las Vegas) but now without the main draw for fans.
Williamson’s entire first Summer League will now consist of 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting — all four of his makes were dunks — plus three rebounds and shooting 3-of-6 from the free throw line. He was up and down, was clearly pressing early, had three of his shots blocked by Mitchell Robinson of the Knicks, missed defensive assignments, and basically looked like a rookie in his first game. His jump shot form needs work (the release is low and too slow right now), but it’s fixable with work.
But when he got a little space Zion showed the footwork, strength, and potential that had scouts comparing him with the best players to enter the NBA in a decade. And he just embarrassed Kevin Knox.
That’s the highlight we’re going to have until training camp starts now in the fall.