By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The 2019 NBA Rookie Draft top pick is officially back in the National Basketball Association (NBA) after one year of absence.
Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans’ star power forward, marked his return to the NBA after being out for 517 days due to a recurring foot injury that held him out for one full season.
The former Duke University superstar underwent foot surgery last year and was eventually cleared to return to basketball activities last November but further assessment of his foot delayed his progress.
After signing a five-year rookie max extension worth at least $193 million during the off-season, Williamson was already declared as an active member of the roster and is ready for his highly-anticipated comeback.
The leftie bruiser quickly let his presence felt with the Pelicans after dazzling during their 129-125 victory over the Chicago Bulls in the ongoing NBA preseason.
Williamson tallied impressive numbers and stuffed the stat sheets after finishing the win with 13 points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block in just 15 minutes of playing time.
During the 9:40 mark of the first quarter, Williamson scored his first basket of the night after soaring for an acrobatic tip-in off a CJ McCollum miss.
The whole United Center then stood in amazement after Williamson swatted away Patrick Williams’ layup from behind but the call eventually favored the Bulls after a goaltend.
After a couple of slam dunks and a perfect 5/5 from the free throw line, Williamson ended the game on an impressive 67% shooting from the field.
Williamson’s addition will be a boost to the Pelicans’ organization after making the playoffs last year via a tournament play-in win.
New Orleans eliminated the Los Angeles Clippers during the play-in tournament but lost at the hands of the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs in six grueling games.
The Pelicans have kept their same playoff core heading into the next season led by McCollum, Brandon Ingram, Jonas Valanciunas, Herb Jones, and Jose Alvarado.