The timetable given was that he would be out indefinitely.
The Pelicans announce Zion will be out indefinitely with a finger injury. pic.twitter.com/wVMoiiOgHc
— NBA TV (@NBATV) May 7, 2021
This news kills pretty much any chance of the Pelicans sneaking in the play-in tournament.
It is unfortunate as Zion has been a destructive force all season long.
The interesting part of this injury, however, is the backlash from the organization towards the NBA.
Pelicans GM, David Griffin, believes that Zion’s injury was due to unfair officiating.
Pelicans' David Griffin blames officiating for Zion Williamson's broken finger: "He’s injured now because of the open season there’s been on Zion Williamson in the paint… There’s more violence encouraged in the paint against Zion Williamson than any player I’ve seen since Shaq" pic.twitter.com/7rYQ7A1mfR
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) May 7, 2021
Zion is without a doubt a physical specimen.
He is someone that can manhandle other grown men in the NBA.
That could possibly lead towards a tougher whistle from the refs.
The referees are there to make sure the game is played right and that it all goes smooth.
So why is it that David Griffin believes they are the ones to be blamed for this injury?
Is Griffin right about this?
Zion and his physicality are parallel to Shaq’s reign of destruction during his prime.
Zion is obviously shorter and perhaps more athletic, but it is quite the same.
They are both immovable objects that wreak havoc inside the paint.
Nobody can move them, and to be honest, nobody can stop them.
The best course of defense to play against them is to foul.
However, that leads to not calling fouls as well.
By simply roaming the paint all game long, that is going to lead to fouls.
The issue with referees is them not wanting to call every single one.
Shaq averaged 16 free throws a game for his entire career, but we all know it could’ve been 20 plus.
Everyone from that era says that fouling was the only way to stop him.
This is why the “Hack-a-Shaq” started; to slow down the big fella.
Zion might be the next example of this.
He is crushing teams each game by scoring in the paint.
However, his free throw numbers are below average, sitting at 70%.
He is shooting almost nine free throws a game this year, but it could be a lot more.
Zion loves throwing his body inside the paint at will on almost every position he is trying to score.
He is being hit by multiple people on almost every drive.
This injury is no surprise, but he might need to get used to this treatment from the refs.
Zion is an imposing force that is hard to officiate, but what about the rest of the league?
According to fivethirtyeight, the league average of foul calls have gone up from the previous season.
Last year’s average was 41.6 total fouls called per game to this year’s average being 48.1.
We have seen the way players have pushed the limits on what is a foul and what isn’t one.
James Harden knows how to hold defenders’ arms while he’s driving and creating the illusion that he’s fouled.
Lastly, Joel Embiid, who is a lot bigger than Zion, gets a great amount of calls by flailing and swiping through.
Zion goes straight up and attacks the rim, but gets fewer calls than these players.
Yes, Zion gets a good amount of calls still, but not as many as he deserves.
The brute force of Zion is maybe not getting the favorable whistle.
Are the officials to blame for the injury?
There are definitely two sides to the argument.