New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson is set to be sidelined indefinitely with a fractured left ring finger.
The news of the injury came out just prior to the Pelicans' 109-107 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, which now leaves the team 2.0 games back of the final Play-In Tournament seed with only five regular season games to play.
The setback comes on the back of some recent discussion around the way Williamson is officiated, with his physical style of play leading to the second-year forward playing through contact. Pelicans Vice President David Griffin was not pleased when speaking with reporters about the injury.
"He's injured because of the open season that there's been on Zion Williamson in the paint," Griffin said. "He has been absolutely mauled in the paint on a regular basis to the point where other players have said to him, 'I'm going to keep doing this to you' because they don't call it."
The stint on the sideline will most likely end Williamson's 2020-21 season, in which he has averaged 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists across 61 appearances. His 61.1 percent field goal percentage leaves him with the highest point per game average for a player shooting greater than 60 percent in NBA history.
Highest PPG by a 60 FG% scorer in NBA history:- StatMuse (@statmuse) May 4, 2021
27.1 - Zion Williamson (this season)
26.1 - Kevin McHale (1987)
24.8 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1980)
24.1 - Wilt Chamberlain (1967)
22.9 - Shaquille O'Neal (2005) pic.twitter.com/mlLnlrzjzH
The 20-year-old ranks fourth in the NBA for free-throw attempts per game at 8.7, and is shooting 69.8 percent from the line.
Suiting up in just 24 games during his rookie season, it's been a remarkable second year in the league for Williamson, but he will now have to watch on as the Pelicans attempt to make a miraculous run to the Play-In without their star.
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