Zion Williamson is beginning to ramp up to make his season debut. It sounds as if the Pelicans have been preparing for this — off the court — for much longer.
The young star forward has not played a game since May, underwent offseason foot surgery and has appeared, while sidelined, to be out of shape.
Nobody would be more concerned and knowledgeable about his fitness level than the Pelicans, who apparently have made some changes in the kitchen to try to ensure he would come back healthy and at his best.
“They have changed members of the staff and even changed some of their culinary practices in an attempt to support him,” ESPN reported about Williamson on Friday. What those changes consist of is unclear.
Williamson, the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft, fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot sometime this summer. It was not learned about until New Orleans announced the procedure in late September, but added that he should be ready for the season opener.
Instead, the 21-year-old has missed the first 17 games — which have included 14 Pelicans losses — and has only been cleared to participate in contact drills, beginning with one-on-one workouts, on Tuesday. Through all of this inaction, Williamson has appeared in photographs to be heftier than the 284 pounds he is listed at. Perhaps it is a case that he has not been able to work out on his fractured foot and returns to shape shortly, but the Pelicans are trying to do their part for the star they are trying to keep healthy and on the court.
Williamson’s next step comes Wednesday when his foot will be examined again to determine if he can participate in full-team workouts. If he gets cleared, his return may not be far off.