Much has been made lately of Zion Williamson’s weight and playing shape, with Kendrick Perkins the latest to get in on the action.
The New Orleans Pelicans star rookie saw his summer league debut cut short when he left in the first half of a July 7 game against the New York Knicks with a bruised knee.
He did not return to summer league as a matter of caution.
Coach K questioned Zion’s conditioning
His playing shape had nothing to do with the injury that occurred during a knee-to-knee collision.
But that didn’t stop his former coach at Duke Mike Krzyzewski from questioning his conditioning.
“I thought really he never should've played just because he's been on this circuit of awards, the ESPYs, everything,” Krzyzewski told Forbes last week. “I don't think he's in the playing shape or the mental shape to play.”
Seth Greenberg had a harsher take
Krzyzewski’s concern echoed those of ESPN analyst and former coach Seth Greenberg, who was a little more blunt with his assessment of Williamson’s playing shape in a prior appearance on the network’s morning show “Get Up.”
“My concern isn’t about his game,” Greenberg said. “My concern is about his body. You can’t improve unless you’re in shape, and he is not in shape ... Whatever his weight is, it’s significantly overweight.
“When [Charles] Barkley was at his very best, he got in world-class shape,” Greenberg said. “And it’s nothing to do with his weight to me. It has to do with his conditioning. And right now, he’s in condition to get hurt, not to be a great player.”
Perkins piles on
On Monday, Perkins got in on the action. Perkins, a 14-year veteran who spent one of his final seasons with the Pelicans, suggested on Twitter that the bevy of tasty, unhealthy food options in New Orleans could prove a hindrance for Williamson.
Pelicans better lock Zion in the House because I can hear those good people in New Orleans saying “Hey Baby you want some Fried Gator Baby” I’m telling y’all I played for the Pelicans and it’s FOOD everywhere!
— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) July 15, 2019
Perkins has a point
Perkins is right about the food. New Orleans is arguably America’s finest food city, and very few, if any, of the most popular offerings resemble anything close to healthy.
From fried shrimp po’boys to fried beignets, the options are abundant, delicious and calorie-laden. Temptation abounds.
For someone intent on watching their weight, New Orleans can prove challenging.
Williamson’s size a long-term concern
This isn’t the first time Williamson’s perceived penchant for packing on pounds has come up. He told GQ that he gained 100 pounds over the course of two years in high school.
Williamson, listed at 6-7 and 285 pounds, was able to harness his size and remarkable athleticism to dominate smaller, slower college competition. His physical prowess combined with his basketball skill led to him being the most-anticipated NBA prospect since LeBron James.
There’s never been a player like Williamson in the NBA, and his size presents concerns about his long-term viability. This works great at 19 years old. Will he be able to maintain his athleticism and playing shape over the grind of an NBA career carrying weight like he does now?
How likely is he to gain unwanted weight as his career progresses?
It’s the biggest flag for an unprecedented player who has the physical tools to potentially dominate NBA competition.
For now, all this noise seems likely to further fuel Williamson to start his NBA career in prime playing condition. Here’s guessing nobody will be worried about his weight in the fall.
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