An incredibly short NBA offseason already is finished as training camps will open around the league Tuesday ahead of preseason games starting Oct. 3 and the regular season Oct. 19. Bettors will not see New Orleans Pelicans superstar Zion Williamson in any exhibition games and Zion is in a race against the clock off surgery for a broken foot to be ready for the Pels' season opener Oct. 20 vs. Philadelphia. Williamson is a +4000 long shot to win NBA MVP, probably because oddsmakers can't trust him to stay healthy. The talent is certainly there.
The 2019 No. 1 overall pick out of Duke was limited to 24 games as a rookie and then 61 of his team's 72 last year. It was a bit of a bombshell on Monday when Pels executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin told reporters that Williamson had surgery over the summer to repair a fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot. The team is hopeful he will be ready for opening night.
"He will get on the floor at some point," new head coach Willie Green said Monday. "But it's progression. I don't want to throw something out there and you guys hold me to it. The timeline is that we're hopeful he can start the season."
Considering Zion enters camp limited to working out in the pool and on the treadmill, being ready for the opener seems rather optimistic. For what it's worth, average time lost for in-season fifth metatarsal fractures is about 42 games because surgical repair typically takes 6-10 weeks.
Last season, Williamson made his first All-Star team. He had a streak of 20-plus points in 25 straight games (Feb. 5-April 6), marking the longest streak in NBA history for a player under age 21. Overall, he finished averaging 27.0 points on 61.1 percent shooting along with 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists. He was the first player in NBA history to average 27 points on at least 60 percent shooting for an entire season. Among the league's top-ranked 94 scorers, Williamson finished with the highest shooting percentage.
New Orleans overhauled not just the coaching staff but a large chunk of the roster in the offseason, saying goodbye to the likes of Lonzo Ball, Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe, and bringing in the likes of Jonas Valanciunas, Devonte' Graham, Tomas Satoransky, and Garrett Temple. The Pelicans have an Over/Under win total of 39.5 – the NBA fully plans to return to an 82-game season. They are +150 to make the playoffs and -175 to miss again.
It's a huge season for the franchise to prove that it can win or Zion could turn down a max extension next summer ahead of unrestricted free agency in 2023.
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