The Pelican striker Zion Williamson is out indefinitely with a broken left index finger, the organization said on Friday.
It appears that Williamson, who missed the 109-107 defeat against the 76ers on Friday, injured his finger in Tuesday’s 108-103 win over the Warriors. You can see him grimace in pain as he makes contact with two Golden State players who are scrambling for the ball:
The game in which the injury occurred seems harmless. But that didn’t stop David Griffin, New Orleans vice president of basketball operations, from engaging in the NBA office, which he believes allowed players to viciously defend the sophomore superstar.
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During a 13-minute press conference on Friday, Griffin described Williamson’s injury as “preventable” and added that they had allowed Williamson an “open 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 how they officiate Zion is going to hurt him, “Griffin said (via ESPN). “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 have said to him, ‘I’m going to keep doing this to you because they don’t name it.’ The color encourages more violence 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 in the league in all free throw attempts after Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee (520). In free throw attempts per game (8.7) this season he was only against Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid from Philadelphia and Trae Young from Atlanta (8.7).
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Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy echoed Griffin’s opinion on the opposing players’ defense of Williams:
“He certainly has 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. “
After Williamsout was eliminated on Friday, New Orleans missed five of its eight top scorers in the 108-103 defeat. They were also without Steven Stevens (toe injury), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (left ankle sprain), Josh Hart (right thumb surgery) and Brandon Ingram (left ankle sprain).
The Pelicans started two and a half games behind the Spurs in 10th place, which is currently the last place in the Western Conference for the play-in tournament. New Orleans has five games left in the regular season: at the Hornets on Sunday, the Grizzlies on Monday, the Mavericks on Wednesday, the Warriors on Friday and at home against the Lakers on May 16. Each of these teams is planned to take part in the play-in tournament from Saturday at least.
Williamson averages 27 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.