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Zion Williamson will take part in contact drills soon, will return this season

New Orleans Pelicans big man Zion Williamson is slowly inching toward his debut. Williamson is close to taking the next step in his rehab, and will reportedly take part in contact drills and practices in the next couple weeks, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Provided Williamson can get through those hurdles unscathed, his return could be closer than expected. The team reportedly wants Williamson to participate in 2-3 practices before he plays in games.

At the same time, the team has been extremely cautious with the 19-year-old Williamson. The No. 1 overall draft pick underwent knee surgery just before the start of the NBA season and was expected to miss 6-8 weeks following the procedure. Williamson has already blown past that timetable.

The Pelicans have asked a lot of Williamson throughout the rehab process. The team reportedly is teaching Williamson to walk and run differently to help with his kinetic chain. On top of that, the team wanted Williamson to be “lean and trim” once he returns, according to Charania. Williamson has been proactive about that, and has refined his eating habits.

Much is expected from Williamson, who excelled during his only season at Duke. Williamson averaged 22.6 points and 8.9 rebounds as a freshman. Those numbers made him the no-doubt top pick in the 2019 NBA draft.

The Pelicans could certainly use Williamson’s talent. At 10-23, they’re are among the worst teams in basketball.

Williamson won’t singlehandedly reverse that trend, but at least he’ll make the losing more fun to watch.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

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