New Orleans Pelicans PF Zion Williamson will be re-evaluated in two weeks for a foot injury and has no timetable for a return, GM David Griffin told reporters on Thursday afternoon. Williamson is still recovering from offseason foot surgery and will miss the start of the season. Chances are the Pelicans are going to take things slow with Zion’s return. That could mean he will miss extended time to start the 2021-22 campaign.
Fantasy basketball impact
If we look at the timeline, the two-week window would mean Williamson has a shot to return before Halloween at the end of the month. At minimum, he’ll miss five games and could be ready to return around Oct. 29 vs. the Sacramento Kings at home. It’s a tough situation. You’re losing games on Williamson, who is likely going in the middle-to-late second round in most 12-team standard fantasy basketball leagues on ESPN. He’s being drafted 17th overall on average. That number should fall a bit considering Williamson could miss extended time after the two weeks before he’s re-evaluated.
If you can pick up Williamson at a later round, I’d say there’s value in that. The best case scenario is he’s back at the end of the month. Worst case, he’s sitting out an additional few weeks and when he returns, he is baby’d by the Pelicans and rests on back-to-backs or something. Williamson is very risky, but if his ADP is going to fall down to the third, fourth even fifth round of drafts, I’ll take that risk and stash Williamson in hopes he returns and is fine.
Williamson is listed as 40/1 to win MVP on DraftKings Sportsbook right now. He was trending toward being a popular dark horse MVP candidate if he were going to start the season healthy. Now, it’s an uphill battle (it was an uphill battle anyway to win MVP). So with this news, it’s hard to view a path for Williamson to win MVP unless he only misses 5-6 games and comes back 100 percent (which seems unlikely).
Zion is also 20/1 to win Most Improved Player, which seemed like a sucker bet anyway. How much more could Williamson improve off of last season? He averaged 27 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists while shooting over 61 percent from the floor over 66 games. Even if he averaged 30 points and 10 rebounds, that isn’t a big statistical jump. Zion would have had to develop a better 3-point shot and lead the Pelicans to a high seed in the West to win MIP (and even MVP).
The Pelicans O/U for wins is set at 39.5, which has just been taken down by DKSB. We’ll see what the line looks like when he pops back up but it’ll likely be a few games down, perhaps to 37.5 or even 36.5 with Zion out early on. We also don’t have the line on Pels to make the playoffs but keep an eye on that number. The West is tough already and the Pelicans were likely going to have to overperform or sneak in via the play-in tournament.