Is Zion Williamson playing tonight against the Houston Rockets?
Is tonight’s game against the Houston Rockets the night that the New Orleans Pelicans finally get their superstar Zion Williamson back in uniform?
According to ESPN’s injury report for the Pelicans, the answer to that question will continue to be “no.” Per reporting from ESPN’s Adrain Wojnarowski, Williamson will miss a minimum of two more weeks. This information was reported on March 8th. So, that means that, at the earliest, Williamson will be out until at least March 22nd.
If he does return after two weeks, his first game back could be March 23rd against the Charlotte Hornets. At that point, the Pelicans would have ten more guaranteed games left in their season. But Williamson would likely only be eligible for nine of those contests, as the team likely would rest him on the second leg of back-to-backs (they have one left taking place on April 4th and 5th).
Tonight’s game against Houston will mark Williamson’s 33rd straight missed game due to the hamstring injury he suffered on January 2nd against the Philadelphia 76ers. When Williamson went down, the Pelicans boasted an impressive 23-14 record. Since then, the team has faltered in his absence, posting an abysmal 10-22 mark.
The defense has dropped a bit since he got injured (they went from 6th in Defensive Rating before January 3rd to 16th in Defensive Rating since then), but that largely has to do with variables outside of Williamson (he himself is what one would call a “weak” defender).
Where Williamson’s loss has really been felt is on the offensive end. Prior to January 3rd (37 games), the Pelicans had the 8th best Offensive Rating in the NBA. Post January 3rd (32 games), the Pelicans have ranked 26th in the NBA in Offensive Rating, ahead of only the quartet of teams that make up the bottom cellar of the league (the Rockets, Hornets, San Antonio Spurs, and Detroit Pistons).
The Pelicans will also be missing the services of Jose Alvarado (tibia) and E.J. Liddell (knee) for tonight’s game. On February 28th, it was stated that Alvarado would be re-evaluated in three weeks. So, that should be taking place sometime around March 21st (right around the time Williamson might be coming back).