NBA rookie rising star Zion Williamson is looking to lead his Pelicans to a playoff berth, but his minutes restriction is not helping with that goal.
The Pelicans are in the bubble to fight for a playoff spot in the Western Conference, with every game being important for the young squad. But when New Orleans resumed its season on Thursday, Zion was only allowed to play 15 minutes. Though these restrictive measures have been taken in order to help prevent injuries, you can’t help but wonder what could’ve been Zion exits with his team leading and is stuck to the bench at the end of a game his team ends up losing, as they did on Thursday.
Coming off that game, analysts Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins were asked of their feelings on the restriction this week on the Jump.
“Listen, they are going to regret giving this guy a minutes restriction because they’re going to miss the playoffs. And the guy is only 20 years old. I don’t get it, just because he’s missed so many games, he has them young legs, Rachel, he’s hungry. Come on, the Pelicans will miss the playoffs due to the minutes restriction put on Zion Williamson, not only yesterday, but throughout the season.”
That’s a hot take from the Truth, but host Rachel Nichols brought up a good point by saying that his impact could be different if his 15 minutes on the court were managed better. Pierce was also asked if Zion playing at the end or in different points in the game would make a difference.
“All that matters is the end of the game for me. Come on, those last five minutes are crucial. You want your best players out there at the end of the game. And so, this is my thing about medical staffs. Medical staffs cannot prevent injury, and this is an argument I’ve been having with them for my whole career. Listen, you have to be lucky not to get injured. Just because you play 15 minutes, you could’ve gotten injured in those 15 minutes. So, you know, these medical staffs, they come up with their theories and stuff. Man, let the guy play.”
Watch the full discussion about Zion and the pelicans down below, and don’t forget to watch the Jump weekdays at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN.