New Orleans Pelicans power forward Zion Williamson is indefinitely out of action with a broken left ring finger. An injury that, according to David Griffin, executive vice president of basketball operations, was “preventable” if the NBA better governed its franchise superstar.
Williamson, who is left-handed, underwent a CT scan Thursday before the team headed to Philadelphia to uncover the injury. A treatment plan and a schedule for his return will be determined after further evaluation.
Griffin didn’t specify when the injury occurred, but Williamson appeared to hurt his finger as he tried to rebound in Tuesday’s 108-103 win over the Golden State Warriors. After about nine minutes into the third quarter, Williamson appeared to have injured his finger while attempting an offensive rebound against Warriors Center Kevon Looney.
Williamson took his left hand as he walked back up the courtyard. At the other end, Williamson went to the bank after a Stephen Curry 3-pointer and asked to be submerged. He returned four minutes later and helped lead the Pelicans to a victory.
Griffin said he believed the injury was likely the result of a buildup of hits.
“I think he likely suffered the injury over a period of time,” said Griffin. “It’s a noticeable injury. It’s a blunt injury. He’s been slapped on the hand over and over again. For me to tell you once, I don’t think I can. I don’t think he even knows.”
Griffin’s comments came during a staggering 13-minute press conference on Friday watching the league follow the way Williamson has been officiated this season.
“I’m really frustrated that this was preventable. We have told the NBA, by all means we can, by submitting films, talking to everyone in the official department and everyone in basketball operations, that the way the way they officiated Zion was to hurt him, “said Griffin. “And honestly he’s injured because of the open season that Zion Williamson was in the suit.
“He’s been drawn into the paint on a regular basis until other players said to him, ‘I’m going to keep doing this to you because they don’t name it. More violence is encouraged in the color than any other player I’ve seen since [Shaquille O’Neal]. It was outrageous and terrible then, and it is now. “
On Friday, Williamson was second to Giannis Antetokounmpo in all free-throw attempts and only behind Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid and Trae Young in free-throw attempts per game this season. Even so, Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said his star should shoot even more.
“He’s certainly got a lot of goals. We were tough with the referees. I know I’ve played every game,” said Van Gundy. “I get the answer: ‘Well, how many free throws did he shoot?’ and my answer is always: “Not enough.”
“The guy gets hit all the time. … In my opinion he should easily lead the league on free-throw attempts. The swipe-downs, the guy on both hands, get killed every night. The referees let it go too often. They will you have. “
These echoed the comments Van Gundy made on April 28th when Williamson was apparently fouled by Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets in what would have been a game in the last few seconds. There was no call on the floor and Denver got away with a two-point win. The NBA’s Last Two Minute Report, published the following day, ruled that Jokic fouled Williamson.
Griffin noted that Williamson, who had no technical foul that season (and no foul in his one season at Duke), “did exactly what he was taught to obey the league’s rule of decency was respectful of the officers. He spoke to officers in the language the chief officer told him. “
Williamson has also played with a right hand injury, Griffin said.
“He’s a player who wanted so much to be available to his team-mates that he played through an injury that honestly no one else would have played through,” said Griffin. “What a reward he got for that was hurting the other hand in a way that didn’t have to happen at all.”
With Williamson, the Pelicans were against the 76ers on Friday without five of their eight top scorers. Brandon Ingram’s injury was referred to by Griffin as a “left ankle sprain”. He added that Ingram will also be indefinitely absent if he tries to work his way back.
New Orleans was also devoid of center Steven Adams (toe injury), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (left ankle sprain) and Josh Hart (right thumb surgery).
The Pelicans are 2½ games back from the San Antonio Spurs for the final one in the Western Conference. The 20-year-old Williamson has averaged 27 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game this season.