Late in the third quarter of Monday’s game, Williamson grabbed a defensive rebound and began pushing the ball in transition, before pulling up sharply as he crossed mid-court, holding his hamstring.
He was evaluated in the locker room by the team’s training staff and did not return to the game.
Imaging on Tuesday revealed a strain that will keep him off the floor until late this month at the earliest.
Williamson’s absence will be a blow to a New Orleans club that has been without co-star Brandon Ingram since November 25 because of a left toe injury.
Despite Ingram’s injury, the Pelicans began Tuesday with the third-best record in the Western Conference at 23-14.
Ingram has begun doing individual shooting drills and appears nearing a return, but C.J. McCollum will likely be asked to carry the offensive load in the meantime.
Larry Nance Jr. would be the most obvious candidate to step into Williamson’s forward spot in the starting lineup, but he has played in just two of the past eight games due to a neck contusion and soreness in his right Achilles tendon. Third-year forward Naji Marshall may fill that role until Nance can return.
Dominant when on the court, Williamson has had his young pro career marred – and perhaps defined – by a series of injuries that have kept him on the sidelines. Since being drafted first overall in 2019, Williamson has played just 114 games, and he missed all of last season with a fractured right foot.
Williamson is averaging 26 points, 7 rebounds and 4.6 assists this season in 29 games.