Coming into the 2020-21 NBA season Zion Williamson is not the poster child of the league anymore. However, he remains the most talked-about rookie since LeBron James in 2003. Utah Jazz superstar Karl Malone has a few words of caution for this rising star making his way in the league.
Zion Williamson had the potential to be what Michael Jordan was to the Bulls or LeBron was to the Cavs in their rookie season. But a knee injury due to an awkward fall in the summer league condensed his debut last year. He was sidelined for a major part of the 2019-20 season. However, the covid hiatus gave him enough time to heal and come back on the court. Although he returned healthy coach Alvin Genty was skeptical about using him for more than 20 minutes on the court.
The injury and subsequent healing were all a result of his bulky physical stature. His weight will forever be a reason for concern since his game is heavily dependent on taking huge verticals. More than half of his field goals are dunks and one fall could result in a career-ending injury.
His weight has other consequences as well. Although Zion is very athletic, he lacks the stamina to last on the court for 35+ minutes. His shot selection adds to the problem. In a total of 36 games that he’s played so far, only 17 of 553 attempts were 3-pointers. Zion’s reluctance to shoot the ball from the arc or the mid-range will reduce his longevity.
Karl Malone dreads we might never know Zion Williamson’s full potential
Karl Malone was the franchise face for the Utah Jazz much like Zion Williamson is for the New Orleans Pelicans now. Although he never won a championship having faced the basketball Jesus Michael Jordan himself several times in the finals, his accolades speak for themselves. He currently ranks second on the All-time leading scorers’ list in the NBA.
Throughout his prime, Karl Malone averaged at least 37+ minutes per game and sometimes even 40 in peak seasons. He was a scoring beast who fed off of John Stockton, an All-Time assists leader.
In conversation with Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson on the Knuckleheads Podcast, he expressed his views on Zion Williamson. He was all praises for this second-year rookie from Duke, however, he believes his weight will hinder the potential he has.
“I love Zion Williamson. Zion needs to get into shape. If he don’t get in shape, we might not ever know his full potential. “I’m still waiting on him to play the whole damn season. News flash: We still waiting,”. Further he added, “You’re a 21-, 22-year-old kid—your a** shouldn’t get tired”.
Zion Williamson is currently averaging 32.6 minutes per game this season which is significantly higher than what he averaged last season. He’s had a couple of 30-point games as well however Pelicans are taking their time to crawl up the rankings table in the western conference. Although Karl Malone’s concerns are genuine, Zion seems to be doing fine so far in his NBA career.