What’s New Orleans Pelicans’ Ceiling With Zion Williamson Healthy?

New Orleans Pelicans, Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum, Zion Williamson, NBA
NBA Analysis Network

The 2021-22 season for the New Orleans Pelicans concluded in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, losing to the top seed in the Western Conference four games to two.

Despite tying up the series at two games apiece and Phoenix Suns’ guard Devin Booker going down with an injury, the Pelicans could not take advantage and lost in six games.

The Pelicans entered the play-in tournament as the No. 9 seed with a 36-46 regular season record. They defeated No. 10, San Antonio, to remain in the playoffs and also took down No. 8 Los Angeles Clippers on the road to clinch the No. 8 seed and final spot in the Western Conference playoffs.    

Although the Suns were without one of their best players during the first-round series, so were the Pelicans in former 2019 first overall pick Zion Williamson, who was out for the entire season due to offseason foot surgery that could never heal in a timely matter for him to play.

LATEST NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Pelicans’ Zion Williamson Sounds Ready For Big 2022-23 Season

After being the first-round pick three years ago, Williamson has been injury prone ever since. Williamson has dealt his meniscus, thumb, and foot injuries during his short time in the NBA.

Even before being drafted into the NBA, Williamson had injury issues at Duke, including when he hurt his knee and his shoe came off during a game in 2019.

However, we have seen that when he is healthy, the 21-year-old can dominate on the floor anytime.

During the 2020-21 season, Zion Williamson started in 61 of the team’s 72 games and averaged 27 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists during his sophomore season to earn a spot in his first All-Star game.   

The 6-foot-6, 248-pound forward had the ability to dribble like a guard and slam it home like a center down low in the post.

LATEST NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Pelicans’ Zion Williamson Sounds Ready For Big 2022-23 Season

Williamson has been known to make highlight-reel plays, even going back to his days at Duke. Because of his basketball intelligence, he has been compared to Nasmith Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, ultimately due to the momentum, he brings especially when driving downhill toward the basket.

The New Orleans Pelicans go into this offseason with a year left on Williamson’s rookie contract. However, the team has to decide this summer between giving him a contract extension or letting him walk and receive a potential qualifying offer with the possibility of trading him.

In addition, New Orleans will also receive the Los Angeles Lakers’ lottery pick if the Lakers’ draft spot is in the top 10.

LATEST NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Pelicans’ Zion Williamson Sounds Ready For Big 2022-23 Season

Obviously, health will decide how far his NBA career will last him.

For the Pelicans, including Williamson, this team is one or two pieces away from being a playoff-contending team every year, highlighted by the trade deadline deal to acquire CJ McCollum from Portland a few months ago.

Depending on what some of the other teams in the Western Conference do this summer and if the New Pelicans keep this continuity behind McCollum and Brandon Ingram with a healthy Zion Williamson, New Orleans has the opportunity to be a top-six team and receive a first-round bye in 11 months.