Like just about everyone else, Charles Barkley has some free advice for Zion Williamson. Here’s what Barkley had to say:
“The New Orleans Pelicans gotta make a decision soon … on Zion. They’re going to have to figure out his body, they’re going to have to figure out his weight. That’s what they’ve got to do this offseason. Because … first of all, you can’t get in basketball shape not playing basketball and you need to know if he can stay healthy. That’s a really big deal...And I’m going to give him some advice, and I don’t know this: I told you the best person that ever happened to me in my life basketball-wise was Moses Malone. And he said to me, ‘Chuck, you’re fat and you’re lazy.’ He says, ‘Charles, let’s lose 10 pounds at a time.’ And I went from 293 to 250. I didn’t know I could lose 50 pounds...They’ve got to sit down with Zion and say, ‘What weight can you play at and be explosive and be strong? Because … you can’t help us playing 20 minutes a night or not playing 80 games. You can’t do that.’”
Look, Barkley is more qualified than just about anyone to give Williamson advice. Malone was right: Barkley was fat and lazy as a rookie and he changed that.
And while we’re sure Williamson could probably lose weight - who this side of Brandon Ingram couldn’t? - no one has really seen a body like his before in basketball. There’s so much we don’t know, starting with his body fat percentage. What if he whips himself into supreme shape and he weighs, say, 275?
The best anyone can hope for is this: that he applies himself, and we think he has and will, and that the New Orleans medical and training staffs are top notch and understand his unique situation.
It’s been an up-and-down rookie year for Williamson. We’ve seen some of his potential. After his return, people were stunned at how he toyed with opponents. Just before bubble play started, people were sending around a photo of Williamson in what appeared to be superb condition.
Then he had his family medical emergency, whatever it was, and left the bubble to attend to it. Basketball, rightly, was secondary.
Now this week he’s overweight again, at least according to his many critics.
We hope that whenever the season is over that Williamson gets time to work on things because we haven’t seen the Zion we saw at Duke yet.
Or to be more precise, we haven’t seen him play both ends of the court, not to mention rebounding. The parts of his game that he can control - offense - he does. The rest still hasn’t caught up.
A summer of continued rehab and conditioning will, we expect, find some of his rainy day critics back on board soon enough.