Mateo’s Hoop Diary: Zion Williamson, Thicker Than Most

A basketball looks more aerodynamic than Zion Williamson.  Since his days at Duke, he’s punished the scales whenever stepping on them as his 6’7 frame carries 284 pounds of “reported” diesel.   


One of the dilemmas with New Orleans’ star forward pushing maximum density is he is not a 7-footer, despite being an athletic marvel.  Even if he was a pivot, weighing so much is not necessary.  It doesn’t take a medical professional to point out the extra armor he is carrying on to the court is probably slowing him down and causing unnecessary stress on his lower body. 


With respect to Williamson, he may have developed the extra mass while rehabilitating from injuries, which has resulted in him playing 85 games in two seasons.  Yet, there were questions about his durability when he entered the league.  His participation in Summer League didn’t last 10 minutes before bruising his left knee.  He also tore his right meniscus in his rookie preseason, which caused a postponement for his real debut until January of 2020.


On draft night 2019, Williamson was listed at 285 pounds.  It was an alarming number then, but he managed to get away with it as his arms still looked massive and defined.  At media day on *Sept. 27,* #1 posed for a photo, spinning a ball on his fingertips, but the image captured is knight-and-day when it’s observed next to the same picture taken two years ago. 


Williamson’s face looks puffier, and his arms aren’t as chiseled, but somehow he is still listed at the same weight of his rookie season. He’s rehabbing again, but this time for a surgery he had on his right foot during the summer, which will cause him to miss the start of the team’s campaign.  There is no timetable for a return, per ESPN.  


I don’t claim to be a doctor, but with an ailment to his extremities limiting him, maybe Williamson should work on abdominal exercises to slim down his waist.  One would think less weight up top means fewer issues downstairs. 


In 2021, Williamson earned All-Star honors.  Of the 27 players who received the title, Williamson was the heaviest, and he is the height of a guard and small forward.   







For Williamson and the Pelicans, the upcoming campaign has enormous expectations.  In his first two seasons, New Orleans had a realistic chance of making the playoffs, despite the extensive time their star forward missed or with the addition of the league mulligan known as the play-in-tournament. 


 In both tries, Nola failed to reach the postseason, and the coaches’ heads rolled after each of those years.  The Pelicans needed a fresh start after Alvin Gentry.  David Griffin miscalculated when he hired Stan Van Gundy as his replacement.  First-year head coach Willie Green now holds command, and the anvil placed on his shoulders this year is massive.  


With Williamson eligible for a contract extension at season’s end, it’s imperative for the Pelicans to grab a playoff spot without competing in the play-in-tournament.  New Orleans’ worst-case scenario would be if Williamson refuses a new deal and shows a willingness to enter restricted free agency in summer 2023. A hot start and continued success might be the only way the Pelicans can avoid such a fate, but the odds are stacked against them as long as Williamson isn’t available.   

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