NBA top pick Zion Williamson out 6-8 weeks with a torn meniscus

Zion Williamson's injury is actually much worse than initially thought.

Zion Williamson’s injury is actually much worse than initially thought.

The jumping phenomenon and first overall [NBA] pick underwent surgery Monday to repair a torn meniscus, leaving him with a recovery timetable of 6-to-8 weeks, the team [New Orleans Pelicans] announced.

Williamson sat out the final preseason game Friday at the Garden [in New York] with what the Pelicans identified as “knee soreness,” and reports at the time indicated it was more precautionary than serious.

But this is the same right knee that Williamson sprained while at Duke [University], and knee surgery so early in his career lends credence to concerns about his durability. At 6-7 [2 meters] and 285 pounds [129 kilograms], Williamson carries much more weight than typical high-flyers. That could translate to injuries.

“I think we’ll be okay as far as managing (his weight),” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said last week. “We’ll be fine.”

Williamson played only nine minutes in Summer League before being shelved because of a bruised left knee. He was a force in the opening three preseason games for New Orleans (averaging 23.3 points while shooting 71 percent) but couldn’t sustain his health.

The Pelicans will be a big-ticket item and a playoff contender only with Williamson on the court.

“It’s not something we can worry about,” Gentry said. “We have games to play and the bottom line is we’re going to be in Toronto in a few days on opening night and we’re going to put five guys out there to play. So from a coaching standpoint, we’re just going to continue to try to improve as a team and play at the highest level of basketball that we can.”

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