While his New Orleans Pelicans are busy getting blown off the court by 44 points by Year 21 LeBron James and the Lakers, Pels superstar Zion Williamson can’t be bothered to self-reflect to wonder where things might be going wrong.
Zion has actually managed to stay healthy for the beginning stretch of the 2023-24 season, yet his piss-poor effort from Thursday’s humiliating loss in the NBA In-Season Tournament semifinals wasn’t what you’d call exemplary “tone-setting” from an alleged face of a franchise.
Now, a New Orleans beat reporter has taken matters into his own hands to fully confirm how much of a prima donna Zion is behind the scenes.
“Williamson’s poor work ethic has been a source of frustration for the Pelicans since they drafted him No. 1 in 2019. The Pelicans have tried to surround Williamson with veterans who have track records of maximizing their potential. The team signed JJ Redick in 2019. In 2022, they traded for CJ McCollum.
“None of it has made an impact.
“The Pelicans have repeatedly stressed to Williamson that his diet and conditioning need to improve. Williamson, multiple team sources have told The Times-Picayune, ‘doesn’t listen.'”
Oh look! Speaking of JJ Redick, he shares a sentiment here shared by many regarding Zion’s lackadaisical attitude toward his professional life.
JJ is spot on here. There are so many former players rooting for him and just disappointed. None of it has come from a place of malice. https://t.co/HR1QBjC86E
The audacity would be admirable if it wasn’t such a textbook case of Zion squandering his athletic prime. By the time he realizes what the hell to do and carry himself like a pro, my sense is it’ll be too late.
Even Shaq is out here warning Zion to get his act together, or else risk going down as an all-time flame-out.
Zion seems like a good enough guy to pull for. However, it’s harder and harder to root for him when he continues to get injured because of how out-of-shape he often is. Then, when he does work his way back to good condition, it seems like he’s content to let himself go until the wheels fall off again.
What did Zion have to say following the 133-89 defeat?
Zion Williamson: "I've got to be better. I've got to be more aggressive finding my shot. I've got to do more things to get my team going. I think I was too laid back tonight. I can't do that. And defensively, I've got to be better."
That talk is indeed cheap, according to this latest report.
While I can understand the scrutiny and spotlight has been immense on Zion before he even set foot on campus for college basketball at Duke — never mind being a No. 1 overall draft pick — it’s that way for a reason.
It’s because Zion is a singular talent whose brand of basketball is truly exotic. We’ve never seen anyone like him at all. The strength, power, distributing ability, defensive upside he still has to explore and raw athleticism make for a mind-boggling, tantalizing combination.
The way things are trending right now, Zion is going to blow all of those gifts out of sheer laziness, or some other undisclosed issue he’s dealing with. Or a blend of those two things. Whatever the case, I hope somebody can get through to him. If the Zion saga keeps going this way, you have to question whether or not he really loves the game of basketball. Forget the killer competitive instinct. Zion comes across like a guy who’s only passively interested in the sport itself. Red flags all over the place in New Orleans.
Just look at this compilation of plays from the Lakers game alone. Convince me or anyone that Zion Williamson loves basketball after watching this. You can’t.
Off a made basket and everyone back the Pelicans still give up a wide open 3 because Zion Williamson doesn’t know who he is guarding pic.twitter.com/lwD1gqDyG2