USA TODAY Sports activities’ Jeff Zillgitt breaks down the expectations surrounding prime decide Zion Williamson in New Orleans.

TORONTO — Zion Williamson’s absence because the NBA season opens is a downer, little question about it.

The New Orleans Pelicans rookie ahead will miss six-to-eight weeks after surgical procedure Monday to deal with a torn proper lateral meniscus in his knee.

The Pelicans might be cautious with Williamson and produce him again when he’s 100% prepared. There’s no sense risking his well being – or their future.

Different groups have performed it secure, too, with prized rookies resembling Blake Griffin and Joel Embiid lacking their rookie seasons to gamers resembling Markelle Fultz, who missed 68 of 82 video games his first season with a shoulder damage.

Lonnie Walker tore his meniscus in a preseason sport a yr in the past and performed in simply 17 video games for San Antonio, and Denver’s Michael Porter Jr. missed his rookie season due to again points.

Backside line: it’s commonplace for rookies to overlook a portion – and even a good portion – of the season.

USA TODAY Sports activities examines how some rookies have fared after dealing with a gradual begin due to damage:


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Joel Embiid

The Philadelphia 76ers star had two foot accidents that sidelined him not just for his rookie season however for his second season, too. He’s was the most effective gamers within the NBA and averaged 27.5 factors and 11.1 rebounds final season. He makes the Sixers a championship contender within the Japanese Convention.

Blake Griffin

Griffin broke his left kneecap in his ultimate preseason sport of what would have been his rookie season with the LA Clippers. He missed all of 2009-10 and returned the next season, averaging a double-double in factors and rebounds (22.5/12.1). He was named Rookie of the 12 months. He’s a six-time All-Star and five-time All-NBA performer.

Ben Simmons

Simmons had surgical procedure to restore a damaged foot and didn’t play in 2016-17. He got here again the next season and gained Rookie of the 12 months. Alongside Embiid, he’s one other key consider Philadelphia’s championship aspirations. He made his first All-Star Sport final season.

Lonnie Walker

Walker, like Williamson, had a meniscus surgical procedure and was out six-to-eight weeks to begin his rookie season a yr in the past with the San Antonio Spurs. He frolicked within the G-League and made his NBA debut on Jan. three.

Greg Oden

Oden is the poster little one for gamers whose careers have been derailed by accidents. He missed what would have been his rookie season with the Portland Path Blazers after struggling a proper knee damage. He performed 61 video games in 2008-09 earlier than injuring his left knee. He performed 21 video games in 2009-10 earlier than one other damage to his left knee after which missed the subsequent three seasons. In seven seasons, Oden performed in simply 105 video games.

Julius Randle

Randle broke his leg 14 minutes into his NBA debut and missed the remainder of the season. He has been dependable within the lineup since, enjoying in a minimum of 73 video games the subsequent 4 seasons, together with 82 in 2017-18. He averaged 21.four factors, eight.7 rebounds and three.1 assists for the New Orleans Pelicans final season and is now with the New York Knicks.

Invoice Walton

Walton had continual foot accidents and performed in 35 video games his rookie season. He missed three full seasons due to foot accidents and performed in 65 or extra video games simply thrice. Nonetheless, Walton managed to play parts of 10 seasons, together with 67 and 80 video games late in his profession with the Boston Celtics. He’s within the Basketball Corridor of Fame.

Observe Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt


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