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Pelicans’ David Griffin on how to make Zion Williamson more available: ‘A big part is on him’

Zion Williamson came out of Duke as the most hyped prospect since LeBron James. 

Through four seasons, Williamson has only been able to show flashes of his ability as he’s dealt with injuries. 

The first-overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft has played in just 114 games for the New Orleans Pelicans, missing the entire 2021-22 season with a broken foot.


Two days after the Pelicans’ loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the play-in game, New Orleans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin was asked what needed to change in order to make Williamson more available. 

“I wish I could immediately pinpoint the answer. I think a big part is on him,” Griffin said during the team’s exit interviews, according to ESPN. “I think there is a lot he can do better. And he would, I think, tell you that. I think we need to do a better job examining the whole situation top to bottom a little bit better.

“I think putting him in the best position to succeed is important. And I think his participation is a big part of that.”


Williamson caused a stir on Tuesday when he told reporters he was “physically fine” even though he had been ruled out for the play-in game. 

“Physically I’m fine, now it’s just a matter of when I feel like Zion,” Williamson said. “I know the atmosphere I’d be entering based off like the playoff experience. So now it’s just a matter of when I feel like Zion.”

Griffin clarified that Williamson had not been cleared for 5-on-5 basketball and that Williamson was not missing the game due to choosing to sit. 

New Orleans dealt with injuries to its roster all season long, with Williamson playing in just 29 games, and Jose Alvarado missing the final 20 games of the regular season with an injury to his right leg.

“What I don’t want is the narrative about our team is, ‘Oh my God, they have to fix the medical situation.’ No, we have to fix a lot of stuff,” Griffin said. “We have to do a whole bunch of things better. That’s just a part of it.

“I really don’t like the conversation being ‘Player availability, player availability.’ It’s also, ‘Let’s do the right things with the players who are available. Let’s get those guys doing the right things every day. And let’s build the right culture where we can be critical of each other in ways we need to be.’ I failed miserably in that. We have to do a better job in a lot of ways.”

Fox News’ Chantz Martin contributed to this report.

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