The NBA recently said that teams in areas with relaxed social distancing guidelines can choose to reopen practice facilities starting May 8, signaling a step toward the possible restart of the season. The league is being extra cautious in not making any grand declarations regarding when the season will resume, but opening up practice facilities for individual workouts would be great progress.
As several players across the league have mentioned that they haven’t picked up a ball or gotten any shots up since their last game because they don’t have a basketball hoop or court to practice on at home, it’s raised the question of how long it will take guys to get back in game shape. One player, though, says he’s ready to go now.
In an interview with NBA on TNT’s Ernie Johnson, New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson said that if the league were to restart right now, he’d be prepared.
“Honestly, I’m ready now,” Williamson said. “I’ve been staying in shape, working on myself and just staying ready. You never know when the time is going to come when they’re going to say, ‘All right, let’s resume.’ I don’t want to have to look around at my teammates and say, ‘Sorry, guys, I’m not ready.’ So I’m staying ready for my teammates.”
This is an incredibly mature mindset for a 19-year-old rookie. However, it remains uncertain whether the Pelicans, sitting 3 1/2 games back of a playoff spot in the West, will have a chance to finish the regular season and resume fighting for a playoff spot. If so, Williamson could be playing some meaningful basketball.
Before the season was suspended, Williamson was averaging 23.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 19 games since missing a bulk of the season due to recovering from knee surgery. He and the Pelicans were beginning to hit their stride, but the rookie phenom recognizes that this time away will only help his knee even more.
“It sucks because I had just come back after sitting three, four months without playing basketball or playing in an NBA game,” Williamson said. “As soon as I felt like I was getting going, this happens. It sucks from that perspective. But I think it’s a good thing because it gives me extra time to work on my knee and work on my body overall.”
The former Duke standout and No. 1 overall pick said that he’s been able to get shots up because he has a basketball hoop at his house in New Orleans where he’s been staying. In the short amount of time Williamson played in his rookie season, he has shown an unlimited amount of potential for what he can become, and his return helped flip the season around and put New Orleans in a position to even think about the playoffs. If the season is able to be salvaged, and there are regular-season games played, it will be exciting to watch Williamson throw down dunks again and try and will the Pelicans into the playoffs.
Courtesy: CBS Sports