It’s no secret that Zion Williamson could become the most transcendent and unique talent in the NBA today. He has all the tools to dominate on both ends of the floor, rebound like crazy, and pass like a guard. When he was on the floor last year, the New Orleans Pelicans played at the rate of a nearly 50-win team. While the defense wasn’t always there, the Pelicans were an electrifying offense with Williamson. His rim-rattling dunks, along with his ridiculous touch around the rim gave fans, and the NBA fanatic, a reason to watch. He has the gifts to transform any franchise he’s apart of on pure talent alone. The 6’7″ forward has every reason to become a generational great – except for health.
From as early on as high school, Williamson filled screens with his ridiculous displays of athleticism. Whether it was 360° dunks, posters, or chase-down blocks, you could count on Williamson bouncing up and down each end of the floor on your favorite Instagram highlight pages. While the athleticism is still there, Williamson now finds himself sitting courtside at Pelicans home games. The 21-year old has had his fair share of injuries, missing 66 games so far in his NBA career; just over 43% of the Pelicans games since he was drafted first overall in the 2019 NBA Draft.
While his production has been stellar while on the court, the Pelicans aren’t able to count on him consistently. During this offseason, Williamson underwent a surgery to repair the fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot. Obviously this is devastating news for all parties involved, but some speculated that this could turn to the worst for the Pelicans. Most of Williamson’s game is predicated on athletic ability. While the skill is there, it’s no secret what his superpower is. With more lower extremity injuries, you risk a lot in terms of potential.
Another thing that plagues him, and the reason for this article, is his current weight.
Williamson came into the NBA weighing roughly 285 pounds, and even with dominant performances, gossip surrounding the NBA was focused on the sure size of Williamson. At his previously build, it was urged to Williamson to watch his weight and shed a few pounds. Even going back to his NBADRAFT.Net draft profile, the “weaknesses” scouting report reads the following:
“Playing style and weight puts a lot of pressure on his legs and feet. The question begs to be asked whether he can stay on the floor for a lengthy NBA career … He will likely need to drop another 15-20 lbs in order to sustain his playing style … 250-260 lbs would be ideal.”NBADRAFT.net, Zion Williamson Scouting Report
Recently, fans dug up the media day photos from his rookie year. Comparing his physique from his first year to his third year, Williamson seems to have put on a significant amount of weight, with some reports even saying he was over 300lbs this offseason.
Of course these are all rumors, and I’m not ready to body shame anyone, but the pictures don’t look great. A video showing Williamson doing drills pre-game also leaked, which fans also got some enjoyment out of.
Although a little mean, the concerns raised over the last few weeks have been real. Williamson doesn’t look in shape and his weight is concerning given his injury history. If the Pelicans want to get an entire career out of their superstar, there are things that they need to address.
It’s no secret that the 82-game regular season is a slog, and endurance is a major part of a winning team. Sometimes, the best ability is availability. Unfortunately, the Pelicans can’t count on their best player being there for them at this time. Whether it’s an injury, a minutes restriction, or weird lineup rotation, Williamson hasn’t seen enough of the court for the Pelicans to be successful. While the team would never admit to it, I wonder if there are some people in the front office who would rather have Memphis superstar Ja Morant, instead of the injury-plagued Williamson?
I’m not ready to proclaim it yet, but if the Pelicans don’t get him on the court soon, I wouldn’t be surprised if the “Morant over Williamson” opinion is more popular. Hopefully for the Pelicans, Williamson can be healthy for his long career. If so, he has a chance to be a top three player in the NBA. If not, he could fit into conversations with the likes of Greg Oden. Let’s just hope that Zion Williamson, and the New Orleans Pelicans, can bounce back after his return.