Tyler Kaufman/Associated Press
Williamson has dealt with his share of injuries since the Pelicans selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in June. He left his summer-league debut in July after nine minutes with a bruised left knee, but it wasn’t considered a serious issue.
Things got more serious prior to New Orleans’ preseason finale on Oct. 18 against the New York Knicks. Williamson was ruled out of the contest with right knee soreness, and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the former Duke star would miss “a period of weeks” to open the regular season.
When Williamson was on the court in the preseason, he looked like the player everyone expected when New Orleans drafted him. The 19-year-old averaged 23.3 points on 71.4 percent shooting and 6.5 rebounds in four games.
The Pelicans have a deep roster to get by without Williamson for the time being. Head coach Alvin Gentry could slide Brandon Ingram over from small forward to power forward, or Nicolo Melli can receive the bulk of the playing time at the 4.
New Orleans’ ceiling this season will be determined by Williamson’s ability to play and make an impact. His temporary absence leaves the franchise with an uphill battle to compete for a playoff spot in the loaded Western Conference.