Karl Malone: Zion Williamson Won't Reach Potential If He Doesn't Get in Shape

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJanuary 20, 2021

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) against the Charlotte Hornets in the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Derick Hingle)
Derick Hingle/Associated Press

Basketball Hall of Famer Karl Malone discussed New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson on The Players' Tribune's Knuckleheads podcast with ex-NBA players Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson on Tuesday.

"I love Zion Williamson," Malone said. "Zion needs to get into shape. If he don't get in shape, we might not ever know his full potential."

The power forward, who played at 6'9" and 250 pounds, referenced comments ex-NBA player Glen "Big Baby" Davis made to TMZ Sports in November 2019 noting that Williamson needed to lose weight before continuing. The 6'9" Davis played at 289 pounds; Williamson is listed at 6'7" and 284 pounds.

"I'm still waiting on him to play the whole damn season. News flash: We still waiting," Malone said.

"And he needs to be averaging 40 minutes a game. Look here, you're a 21-, 22-year-old kid—your ass shouldn't get tired."

Malone, who lives in Louisiana, also offered to work one-on-one with the 20-year-old for free.

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Williamson is a year removed from missing three months because of a torn right lateral meniscus, which required surgery in October 2019.

In addition, he and the rest of the NBA are adjusting to an unusual NBA schedule because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That schedule includes a shortened offseason for most teams, including the Pels, who had just four months of rest between seasons (as opposed to five or six like usual).

Ultimately, Williamson is still getting used to the rigors of the NBA, having played just 35 career games thus far—or less than the equivalent of half a regular season.

Williamson entered Tuesday averaging 22.6 points and 8.3 rebounds in 32.4 minutes per game. His usage rate of 28.8 ranks 23rd in the league among qualified players, per Basketball Reference.