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Zion Williamson on pace for New Orleans Pelicans return in December

Friday 8 November 2019 06:24, UK

Zion Williamson throws down a dunk in the Pelicans' preseason over Chicago
Image: Zion Williamson throws down a dunk in the Pelicans' preseason over Chicago

The timetable for Zion Williamson's return to the New Orleans Pelicans remains the first half of December.

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The 19-year-old rookie had surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee on October 21, and he said he is focusing on his rehab and aiming to keep a positive attitude.

The initial timetable was that Williamson would be sidelined six to eight weeks.

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"I do feel like I'm getting stronger day by day," Williamson said Thursday in his first session with reporters since the injury. "The trainers are telling me it's getting stronger and I can feel the difference day by day."

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Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said Williamson's recovery is on schedule. He termed it "very ambitious" to think the No 1 overall pick could return this month.

Zion Williamson finishes at the rim against the Utah Jazz 1:52
No 1 draft pick Zion Williamson starred again in the New Orleans Pelicans' preseason win over the Utah Jazz

Williamson remains unsure over how he injured the knee. He remembers feeling soreness after a preseason game against the San Antonio Spurs on October 13.

Eight days later, he was undergoing surgery for the first time in his life.

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"To me, I wasn't as nervous," Williamson said. "I was just like, let's go in and get it done and let's start the recovery process."

Williamson was supposed to make New Orleans fans forget former star Anthony Davis, who was dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers in the offseason.

Zion Williamson protects the ball from the Chicago Bulls' defense 3:23
New Orleans VP of Basketball Ops David Griffin says it is 'asinine' to suggest Zion Williamson's injury was caused by his weight

Instead, he hasn't played, and the team is off to a dreadful 1-6 start. Guard Jrue Holiday said he has advised Williamson to just let the situation play itself out.

"Be patient," Holiday said. "He's 19. Be patient. I've been through some injuries myself. I know how frustrating that can be. Maybe even sometimes feeling like you're on the outside because everybody is playing.

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"Knowing him, he wants to be out there helping his team-mates up. He feels like he can do a lot for us, which we think he can. Not to have that pressure. We'll hold it down until he gets back."

Williamson shot 71.4 per cent while averaging 23.3 points and 6.5 rebounds in the preseason.

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