Report: Zion Williamson won’t listen to New Orleans Pelicans on improving diet and conditioning

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read
Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Zion Williamson has faced questions and even some harsh criticism regarding his weight and conditioning since arriving in the NBA, and the New Orleans Pelicans star reportedly is not heeding requests from the team to try to improve in those areas.

“The Pelicans have repeatedly stressed to Williamson that his diet and conditioning need to improve,” wrote Pelicans insider Christian Clark. “Williamson, multiple team sources have told The Times-Picayune, ‘doesn’t listen.’”

The concerns have come to the forefront yet again after the 23-year-old’s lackluster performance in a 44-point loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA In-Season Tournament on Thursday.

Williamson managed just 13 points, three assists and two rebounds playing 26 minutes in the 133-89 defeat, all below his season averages. Such a disappointing outing in such a high-profile game clearly can’t sit well with the Pelicans organization, which has been dealing with Williamson in this manner throughout his career.

At his best, Williamson can be a spectacular player. In fact, teammate Jonas Valanciunas raved about the youngster this past offseason, saying that he asks himself, “Wow, what the f— is going on?” when watching Williamson perform on the court.

However, actually being on the court has been a consistent problem. Since he was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft out of Duke University, Williamson has been sidelined by various injuries, some of which arguably could have been a result of the weight he is carrying and his overall conditioning.

He missed the entire 2021-22 NBA season and was limited to 29 games last season. He also appeared in only 24 games during the 2019-20 campaign.

This season, he has been able to play in 19 of New Orleans’ 23 games so far and is averaging 22.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists per contest, helping the Pelicans to a 12-11 record.

They have been one of the more pleasant surprises in the league this season, as evidenced by their march to the semifinals of the inaugural In-Season Tournament. With teammate Brandon Ingram having another solid season himself, expectations are high for New Orleans to maybe challenge the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference.

But those expectations will certainly not be met if Williamson continues to disappoint and provide a distraction based on the lingering concerns about his conditioning and dedication to the game.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has focused on New York sports. He has covered the NBA and NFL for almost three decades and is still waiting for the next championship for the Knicks and Jets.