Zion Williamson eager to play but says he trusts Pelicans' recovery plan

Chiney: The Pelicans aren't rushing Zion back (1:37)

Chiney Ogwumike explains how Zion Williamson's rehab process is designed to build him into a durable pro athlete for the long haul. (1:37)

DENVER -- If it were up to Zion Williamson, he already would have made his debut for the New Orleans Pelicans.

That's what the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA draft told ESPN's Jorge Sedano before the Pelicans' 112-100 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.

Williamson told Sedano that he "trusts the organization" in its decision-making, and he said his rehab process has been about more than just the recovery from surgery to repair the torn meniscus in his right knee.

Williamson, 19, said the Pelicans are also trying to tweak small matters in how he walks and runs, working on the kinetic chain of his body.

In the past week, Williamson has slowly started working his way back. He has done individual shooting drills and group drills but hasn't gone 5-on-5 or even 3-on-3, only 5-on-0 drills.

After the Pelicans have finished a shootaround or practice in the past week, Williamson has stayed back with a group of coaches and staffers and worked for anywhere from an hour to 90 minutes, walking through plays and running up and down the court.

David Griffin, the Pelicans' executive vice president of basketball operations, has said Williamson has to pass preseason conditioning tests before he's cleared to make his debut.

A source within the organization told ESPN that before Williamson makes his on-court return, the team would like him to undergo at least two or three practices doing full work. A source told Sedano the team is targeting just after the new year for those practices.

Williamson averaged 23.3 points and 6.5 rebounds on 71.4% shooting for the Pelicans in four preseason games. He missed the final game because of knee soreness and underwent surgery Oct. 21, the day before the regular season started.

Asked about Williamson, Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said: "He is making progress. He is in rehab. He is doing everything that he's supposed to do and he's moving forward toward playing."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.