Zion Williamson enters Pelicans practices with no minutes restrictions

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After Zion Williamson tore his right meniscus and underwent surgery last season, the New Orleans Pelicans put him in bubble wrap. When he returned to the court, Zion had minutes restrictions, he didn’t play back-to-backs, and the Pelicans brought their potential franchise cornerstone along slowly, playing him fewer than 28 minutes a game.

This season, Williamson enters training camp with zero restrictions, coach Stan Van Gundy said, via Andrew Lopez of ESPN.

“Me and coach Van Gundy have talked and from what I know now, there are no restrictions. None,” Williamson said…

Van Gundy told reporters earlier on Sunday that Williamson has “no limitations in practice. That’s a good thing.” He added that Williamson easily passed his conditioning test, which included a three-minute run on the court.

Even with the restrictions last season, Zion averaged 22.5 points and 6.3 rebounds a game. He was a force diving to the rim, and his gravity drew defenders and opened things up for Pelicans’ shooters.

Things will look different this season for New Orleans, with Van Gundy setting the tone and no Jrue Holiday. Still, with an unleashed Zion and the return of Brandon Ingram, the Pelicans are a playoff threat in the West if they can stay healthy.