The New Orleans Pelicans will not push Zion Williamson.
New Orleans Pelicans executive Vice President David Griffin said during an interview with a local reporter that Zion is not expected to see increased minutes in the coming games.
Sports in 2020 seems like the Quantum Realm in the Avengers, where time and space are irrelevant and rules don’t apply. Being that we are in unprecedented times and circumstances, logic these days seem to be thrown out the window.
Many fans wondered where was the sense in New Orleans Pelicans’ phenom Zion Williamson only playing 15 minutes in Thursday’s 106-104 loss to the Utah Jazz.
With only eight “seeding” games to play in the bubble and the Pelicans already 3 1/2 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies before the restart, the Pelicans knew that every game was critical in trying to reach a potential play in series to make the top eight in the Western Conference.
It’s why in a game where the Pelicans grabbed a 16 point lead only to watch it slowly slip away in the second half, it seemed mind boggling that a guy like Zion sat the final seven plus minutes in the fourth quarter.
It certainly was not because he was having a bad game or seemed unable to contribute. To the contrary, he dominated in his brief stint, shooting six for eight from the field and scoring 13 points in limited action.
The Pelicans could have certainly used his athleticism around the rim to deter Jazz players from driving through there at will. The Pelicans gave up a ridiculous 56 paint points in the game.
New Orleans Pelicans: David Griffin explains Zion Williamson’s minutes.
If Zion was on a minutes restriction, why would the coaching staff choose to use the beginning of quarters exclusively in order to divvy the minutes? What would be wrong with having the remaining minutes left after the 3rd used in the final minutes of the 4th? David Griffin who spoke with Nola.com’s Christian Clark explained the plan for Zion moving forward:
“I appreciate the fact that everyone wants him to play 40 minutes every night,” Griffin said. “I can promise you he’s not going to. No mistakes were made (Thursday) with how this was handled other than by me coming forward and expressing this in the clearest way possible. This isn’t complicated. He will not play significant minutes in the next game, and he may not in the following game. This is all about the ramp-up time. He didn’t get the benefit of the things that his teammates got for those 13 days. This is going to take some time.”
Time? It’s actually the thing the Pelicans don’t have. This restart is an eight game sprint, not a normal 82 game marathon.
If the plan for all eight games is to play Zion 15 minutes or less, then why play him at all? Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported that Zion was “pissed” over the decision of the restricted minutes.
Look, sometimes you have to save someone from themselves, but what is the overall message being sent to the rest of team? Are you trying to win or not?
The next two don’t get any easier, as the New Orleans Pelicans will play Western Conference contender Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday, followed by a date with the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday, the team they are currently chasing for the 8th seed.
Two losses here could all but eliminate the Pelicans playoff hopes. These are certainly desperate times. They may call for desperate measures.