Zion Williamson is the first rookie since LeBron James to get NBA fans collectively lining up to see in action. He was the ultimate prize for the Pelicans in the NBA Draft lottery. He immediately became the face of the franchise and up there with Drew Brees in the New Orleans sports landscape.
But all the excitement around Zion will have to wait a couple months as the Pelicans announced Monday that Williamson underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn right lateral meniscus.
On one hand, a six-to-eight week recovery time isn’t the worst. We should get to see Zion in action well before the All-Star break, but it doesn’t take much digging to see that the injuries are rapidly catching up with the 19-year-old out of Duke.
He suffered a hand injury during the McDonald’s All-American Game. He hurt his knee when his shoe exploded at Duke. Another knee issue forced the Pelicans to shut him down in Summer League. And after just four preseason games, he suffered yet another knee injury — this time, a meniscus tear.
And honestly, there’s not much reason to expect that to change until Williamson addresses the root of the problem: his frame and weight.
Williamson is 285 pounds with a unique skillset and athleticism for that size. He plays at full speed and uses all that strength and explosiveness to his advantage. The problem with a 285-pound person with a 45-inch vertical, though, is that an unbelievable toll is taken on the knees.
Medical studies have shown that jumping applies four times your body weight to the patellofemoral joint (the kneecap and femur). The act of jumping is a high-stress movement for any NBA player, and we see NBA players suffer from knee soreness all the time. Williamson’s teammate, Josh Hart, was sidelined for much of last season with patellar tendinitis (a jumping-related overuse injury).
Yet, Zion isn’t a regular NBA player. He’s a 285-pound bulldozer who plays above the rim. Every time he throws down one of those jaw-dropping dunks, his knees are feeling the brunt of a movement that someone his size shouldn’t be capable of. Those knees are feeling about 1,140 pounds of force every time he lands. That’s why we’re seeing these injuries pile up before his 20th birthday.
So, unless Williamson addresses his weight and frame — and does so quickly — these injury concerns will continue to linger. He can’t sustain an NBA career at that weight with that playing style.
It’s time to worry about Zion Williamson.
This content was originally published here.