Sport 'Just asinine': Pelicans' David Griffin shuts down Zion Williamson weight chatter
Zion Williamson soars for multiple highlight dunks in preseason win
The Pelicans' prized rookie Zion Williamson showed off a trio of superb dunks in a blowout win over the Hawks on Monday night.
TORONTO – Blaming New Orleans rookie forwardon poor conditioning and size is asinine, Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said Tuesday.
Speaking publicly for the first time since the team announced the 6-6, 286-pound Williamson will miss 6-8 weeks after he had surgery on his right knee to address a torn meniscus, Griffin delivered a steadfast defense of Williamson.
“I’ve seen the narrative out there about him and this happened because he’s not in shape and he’s too big,” Griffin said, about eight hours before the Pelicans' season opener in Toronto. "That dude is a freak of nature. When he went through his physical, he ran on the treadmill longer than the cardio-stress test people have ever needed to put anybody through a test to get his heart rate up. That happened because he’s touched by the hand of God to do this. He’s in elite condition. He stays in elite condition.
Watch: Pelicans' Lonzo Ball connects with Zion Williamson on alley-oop
This is something we’re going to see a whole lot over the next several seasons. The new-look New Orleans Pelicans, led by Lonzo Ball and rookie No. 1 pick Zion Williamson, putting up highlight-reel plays. © Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY SportsThe Chicago Bulls found this out first-hand during their preseason game against Zion and Co. on Wednesday.Check out this perfect alley-oop from Ball to Williamson in transition early in the game.Lonzo to Zion for the emphatic flush. Good luck, NBA. pic.twitter.com/WMPoS9ra6q— Sportsnaut (@Sportsnaut) October 10, 2019It’s honestly just a matter of time before Mt. Zion takes down a backboard.
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“He also has a body type that we’re learning to deal with as a 19-year-old kid. He can be 274 pounds and 8½ percent body fat. He can be 280 pounds and 9% body fat. As we’ve gone through this process for our medical team, learning how they’re going to keep him lean and giving him the core strength and stability and control he needs to handle all the torque he generates, typically that means you’re doing to do things to strengthen those areas. In this case, he gains muscle mass so fast and gains weight so fast, no one’s ever dealt with anybody like him before. He’s 19. It’s going to be a learning experience for all of us.
Lonzo, Zion connect on absurd alley-oop
New Orleans Pelicans rookie No. 1 pick Zion Williamson has made several highlight-reel plays thus far during the preseason. © Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY SportsThat did not change Sunday afternoon against the San Antonio Spurs. Check out Mt. Zion throwing down an alley-oop on a pass from Lonzo Ball from beyond half court.Lonzo Ball to Zion three quarter court alley-oop. Just filthy. pic.twitter.com/55lW4tZLmR— Sportsnaut (@Sportsnaut) October 13, 2019That’s just absurd from both Ball and Williamson. The two are going to be so much fun to watch once the regular season tips off.
“The notion that this happened somehow because Zion is in poor condition is just asinine. He wasn’t in poor condition when he went 12-for-13 against (Chicago).”
Griffin compared Williamson to Blake Griffin, who also entered the league with great power and quickness and sustained a season-ending injury in preseason his rookie year. Griffin said it took Griffin time to find the right balance of using his power and quickness.
The Pelicans don’t know when or how it happened and likely will never know. Griffin said Williamson has such a high tolerance for pain that the impressive rookie didn’t recognize there may be an issue until he mentioned tightness at a practice a week ago. The Pelicans held him out of practice and began a process to diagnose any issue.
“He didn’t have any swelling,” Griffin said. “When did it happen? Nobody has any way of knowing because he didn’t have any symptoms. It was fascinating.”
Bondy: Zion's durability concerns already becoming a reality
Zion Williamson is unlike any NBA player in history. The size, the explosion, the intensity. It’s not just the height on Williamson’s vertical, it’s how quickly he gets there. A true athletic phenomenon. It’d be easy to envision him terrorizing the paint for 15 Hall of Fame years.And yet, Williamson also arrives with a warning label concerning his durability.The Pelicans forward will be out “weeks” of the regular season because of a knee injury, according to ESPN.
The Pelicans sought multiple opinions and that’s why it took the team so long to announce the injury and surgery.
“What I did not want was to put out too much information along the way and pollute anybody’s opinion of what they were looking at,” Griffin said. “We wanted to get a fair read of all of those things without having anybody else’s opinion known. That’s why we did as much as we did to keep things quiet in the fashion that we did."
Williamson had a good mental disposition before and after surgery, Griffin said.
“We’re going to be very cautious,” Griffin said. “This isn’t a sprint. … We’re going to treat everyone with kid gloves and get them through this the best way for them long term. We put out a timeline of six to eight weeks. Knowing Zion and the work rate he has, he’s going to be pushing us to play a lot sooner than that. Sometimes, our job is to protect guys from themselves, and we’ll see how he goes through the process. All the indications are very positive.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
The Pelicans say Zion Williamson’s weight isn’t an issue. NBA legends disagree .
Does Zion Williamson need to lose weight after his latest knee injury? The Pelicans don't think so, but a few NBA legends disagree.The New Orleans Pelicans will kick off the 2019-20 NBA season on national television Tuesday night without their No. 1 overall pick in the lineup, and NBA fans may have to wait at least two months to see former Duke superstar Zion Williamson compete at the pro level.