<
>

Pelicans' Zion Williamson to miss finale to rookie season with sore knee

Zion Williamson's rookie season is officially over.

The rookie was listed as out for the New Orleans Pelicans' season finale on Thursday night against the Orlando Magic with right knee soreness. Brandon Ingram (right knee soreness) and Jrue Holiday (right elbow soreness) are also out, while Josh Hart (right knee soreness) is listed as questionable.

Williamson will miss his third game in the bubble, putting an end to an up-and-down rookie season.

The No. 1 overall pick in last year's NBA draft didn't make his debut until Jan. 22 after he had surgery on his right knee to repair a torn meniscus the day before the regular season started. After initially expecting to miss six to eight weeks, Williamson was held out for nearly 13 weeks before he was allowed to take the court.

When he did debut, against the San Antonio Spurs, Williamson announced his presence with a 17-point outburst in 3:08 in the fourth quarter before sitting down for the rest of the game on a burst restriction -- something that he'd end up on at the end of the season as well.

Williamson's play was a big reason the Pelicans were optimistic about their playoff chances heading into the bubble. However, on July 16, Williamson left the bubble to tend to a family medical emergency and didn't return until July 24. Once he returned, he had four days to quarantine and missed New Orleans' three scrimmage games.

Once he did debut in the bubble, Williamson was again on a burst restriction and averaged only 20.7 minutes in five games in Orlando.

In 24 games this season, Williamson averaged 22.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game while shooting 58.3% from the field and going 6-of-14 from 3-point range -- although four of those came in his debut against the Spurs.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Williamson becomes the second rookie in NBA history to average 20 points per game while shooting at least 55% from the field, joining Shaquille O'Neal (1992-93).

Williamson did most of his damage in the paint, averaging 15.8 points per game in the restricted area -- tied with Giannis Antetokounmpo's output last season for the most by any player in a season over the past 20 years.