If New Orleans Pelicans power forward Zion Williamson remains out for the remainder of the 2021-22 NBA season, he’s edging into Greg Oden territory.
Greg Oden is widely regarded as one of the biggest draft busts of all time, a reality which doesn’t do justice to what Oden was capable of accomplishing in college. The decorated Ohio State product only spent a season with the school before declaring for the 2007 NBA Draft, where the Portland Trail Blazers selected him with the No. 1 overall pick. Seven years and too many injuries later, Oden was out of the league at only 26 years old.
It’s feared that Zion Williamson could suffer a similar fate if he doesn’t start playing soon.
If Williamson remains out for the year, he will have played 85 games in his first 3 years in the league—that’s only three more games than Oden as he struggled his first few years with the Trail Blazers.
Zion Williamson stat shows just how close he seems to becoming Greg Oden
Oden represents a cautionary tale when it comes to drafting players with the potential for injury. Even when Oden was at Ohio State, he sat out for the beginning of the season due to a surgical repair of a ligament in his wrist. While he was in the NBA, several knee injuries and surgeries plagued him for years as he remained sidelined with the Trail Blazers.
Although Williamson stunned at Duke, there was significant concern that he might face injury in the NBA if he continued to make high-powered plays that had a heavy impact on his knees. Although Williamson eventually heeded advice to slim down and lose weight so that he could become more mobile on the court, his progress was impeded last summer when he fractured his foot. Williamson was expected to return in December 2021, but scans showed that his foot wasn’t healing properly and he needed additional time to rehabilitate it.