New Orleans Pelicans: 3 players that can step up after Zion Williamson’s injury

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /
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New Orleans Pelicans
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Zion Williamson’s second season with the New Orleans Pelicans is likely over.

Williamson sustained a fractured left ring finger that will keep him out “indefinitely.” The Pelicans only have five games left until the end of the regular season and, considering that this type of injury usually keeps players out for at least five games, it is safe to assume that we will not see Williamson in a New Orleans uniform for a number of months.

The Pelicans’ franchise player had a tremendous sophomore season in the NBA. His crowning achievement is no doubt his first all-star selection, but Williamson was laughably dominant. He owned the paint against every opponent, seamlessly transitioned into a bigger on-ball role, and improved his defense as the year went on.

Make no mistake about it: Williamson is a generational talent. He still has some flaws and improvement areas, but he has cemented himself as a top-20 player in the entire league—at least for me—with just 85 total games under his belt.

But while Williamson’s season is probably done, the New Orleans Pelicans’ year does not necessarily end with Williamson’s finger fracture.

Sure, the few games left are likely meaningless in terms of making the play-in tournament, but they are a good opportunity for some less-featured players within the roster to make an impact and work themselves into a brighter NBA future or bigger role next season. The Pelicans have already seen this happen over the season, with Naji Marshall making the most out of Josh Hart’s injury, entering the rotation, and earning himself a guaranteed contract.

Here are three rotation players that could take their games to the next level in wake of Williamson’s absence: