Zion Williamson hopes to play without restriction right after quarantine: ‘I’m a hooper’

Ryan Young
·3-min read

Zion Williamson doesn’t care that it’s been months since he’s played in a real game, or the fact that he’s spent the past several days in quarantine inside the NBA’s bubble at Walt Disney World.

If he had it his way, Williamson would play without any restrictions when the New Orleans Pelicans take on the Utah Jazz on Thursday — which will officially mark the season restart.

“I think I can play the whole game. I’m just a hooper,” Williamson said Wednesday, via USA Today. “I don’t know nobody that is going to say, “No, I can only play 10 or 15 minutes at a time.’

“I play the whole game if I have to. I’m a hooper.”

Williamson a ‘game-time decision’

Williamson returned to the bubble on Friday after having left for a family matter, and had to complete a four-day quarantine. He rejoined the team on Tuesday, and has been competing in light contact drills in practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, per the report.

While he wants to play, Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said that he’s a “game-time decision” and that he’ll leave it up to the medical staff.

“Obviously as a coach, you want him out there as much as we can have him out there,” Gentry said, via USA Today. “We have many guys who are more equipped to make those decisions than I am from a health standpoint and a minutes-played standpoint. It’ll be collectively something that we’ll sit down, talk about and try to figure out.”

Williamson averaged 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in 19 games with the Pelicans this season before play was suspended. The team currently holds the 10th-best record in the Western Conference, and is 3.5 games back from the Memphis Grizzlies in the final playoff spot.

Williamson’s presence on the court would certainly help in a push to reach the postseason. The team, however, obviously doesn’t want to push him too hard too fast — given his injury history and delayed start to the year after right knee surgery in October.

Regardless of how it goes down, Gentry expects that Williamson will be able to handle it well.

“He’s a very mature kid, a 20-year-old kid," Gentry said, via USA Today. "I think a lot of times we forget about that as we did with LeBron [James]. He does all what the 19-year-old and 20-year-old people do. I think we have to be a little careful about putting all of these expectations on his shoulders.

"He’s here to play and here to have a good time. Hopefully he’s healthy enough to play and conditioned enough to play. Other than that, we should treat him like a 20-year-old. That’s what he deserves to be treated as."

New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson
Though he just got out of quarantine after his trip out of the bubble, Zion Williamson hopes to play without restriction on Thursday against the Jazz. (Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

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