Zion Williamson’s NBA debut is being put on hold as the New Orleans Pelicans are going to start the 2019 season without him.
Zion Williamson was about as electric as a rookie could be in the preseason for the New Orleans Pelicans and got everybody excited for what he could do in the regular season. That excitement has been put on hold.
Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Zion is going to be out “weeks” with a right knee injury that is not being considered severe. The Pelicans appear to be playing cautious with Zion, hence why we have not received an exact timeline yet.
We should expect Zion to be out for around three weeks. While he could come back sooner, three weeks is a reasonable timetable for the Pelicans to play it safe without having him miss too much of the season.
The date that we circled is November 9 at home against the Houston Rockets. This gives Zion about three and a half weeks before he jumps back into game action.
That gives the Pelicans nine games without Zion on the court. It is not enough to ruin a season, but the last thing the team wants is a slow start after a stellar preseason. Here is how we expect those nine games to go down.
1. @ Toronto Raptors — Win
The Toronto Raptors may be the defending NBA Champions but no longer have Kawhi Leonard or really any star player for that matter. They will be riding high after the ring ceremony and the Pelicans are going to have a bit more to prove.
With the team wanting a win over the defending champions and needing to start hot without Zion, they will jump out of the gates early in this game to get the win.
2. vs. Dallas Mavericks — Win
The New Orleans Pelicans’ home opener is against one of the toughest teams to gauge this season, the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks have the potential to be really special with the duo of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis but we don’t know that for certain as it has been almost two years since Porzingis’ injury.
Porzingis will start the year slow and Dallas’ lack of depth will be exposed.
3. @ Houston Rockets — Loss
However, both guys know that to win a championship they are both going to have to adjust. While I think they still come up short in the postseason, they are primed to be a great regular season team and will win many more games than people expected.
4. vs. Golden State Warriors — Loss
If Zion was in this game then I would give the Pelicans the win as Zion would absolutely bully the Warriors’ frontcourt, but that is not the case.
5. vs. Denver Nuggets — Loss
We are going to have to wait for a Zion-Nikola Jokic matchup. The Denver Nuggets were one of the best teams in the Western Conference last year. While they should take a slight step down because the competition got better, they have a deep and talented roster.
This game will be close but Jokic will ultimately be the difference as he will take over in this one to lead the Nuggets to victory.
6. @ Oklahoma City Thunder — Win
I think that the Oklahoma City Thunder is another team that will be better than people give them credit for as Chris Paul still has something to offer as a team’s best guy.
They have some nice pieces, such as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and this will end up being a very entertaining one to watch. However, after three losses in a row, the Pelicans will respond with a win.
7. @ Brooklyn Nets — Loss
Again, this is an instance where having the star player makes a world of difference and is going to lead the Brooklyn Nets to victory. Someone needs to take over the game and that is going to be Kyrie Irving.
I think this ends up being a really close game that the Pelicans just narrowly lose because of the experience gap, but every loss counts the same in the record book.
8. vs. Toronto Raptors — Win
I don’t think the second matchup between these two teams is any different than the first. While any team can win on any given night, these are two matchups within weeks of each other and the outcome will be the same.
The New Orleans Pelicans will out-pace and out-tempo the Raptors and win by an even larger margin at home.
9. @ Charlotte Hornets — Win
The last game with Zion Williamson is perhaps the easiest of the bunch. The Charlotte Hornets are primed to be one of the teams with the highest lottery odds and is a team that the Pelicans should beat every single time they play them.
That gives the New Orleans Pelicans a 5-4 record without Zion Williamson before Zion returns against the Houston Rockets.
A 5-4 record might not seem all that great but it is a good-enough start to bank on to really start getting hot once Zion returns to action.