In New Orleans, all things basketball revolve around Zion Williamson. The 6-6, 285-pound beast came into the NBA after one of the most electric and dominant seasons the college basketball world had ever seen.
Today, it remains to be seen what Zion can accomplish in his NBA career and if he can live up to all the hype. As optimistic as things seem, there are also a lot of concerns. His weight, body, and size have been described as a "ticking time bomb" ready to give at any moment. He's already dealt with several injuries in several different level s of the sport. But, perhaps most concerning of all, if the apparent regression of Williamson described by Dr. Brian Sutterer.
“He’s in a race against his own body,” Dr. Sutterer said over the phone. “If you go watch his Duke highlights compared to now, the difference is profound. In my opinion, his athleticism and conditioning have regressed substantially. He’s less explosive, less conditioned, slower on defense, has already had a portion of his meniscus removed from his knee after an injury, and he’s still under close monitoring from the medical staff.”
To Dr. Sutterer, Zion's durability is not headed in a good direction...
“I feel like nobody really wants to call it like we all see it,” Dr. Sutterer said. “He’s trying to reverse a career trajectory that by the Pelicans’ own admission is worrisome as evidenced by his ‘reprogramming’ and scrutinized minutes. He had four months to start making positive strides and to me he’s regressed more. When will he finally start to reverse course? Will it be in time before more substantial fitness concerns and injuries limit him and threaten his career? Instead of outpacing these risks, I’m worried that Zion is losing the race.”
The Pelicans have been suspiciously monitoring Zion's minutes since the bubble began. He played around 15 minutes in the first two games and only got more after practically begging for it. He was on the court for 25 minutes in the Pels' most recent win.
Is it caution? Is it overprotectiveness? Whatever it is, Dr. Scutterer hasn't been the only one to notice. Stephen A. Smith recently expressed concern for Zion on ESPN's First Take, saying that "something's wrong." At this point, who can deny it?
The Pelicans are trying their best to preserve their best chance at a bright future, but if Zion continues to trend downward, it could spell bad news for both him and the franchise.