In a surprising turn of events, New Orleans Pelicans’ star Zion Williamson is making headlines for his offseason dedication, spending more time in the gym this summer than in his entire NBA career. This revelation comes straight from the office of Pelicans’ Executive Vice President, David Griffin.
Griffin recently made this revelation during an interview with Chrisitan Clark of Nola.com, stating, “I can tell you Zion Williamson has been in our gym more than he has in his entire career in the offseason. He has been in New Orleans virtually all offseason, which is different.”
This surprising commitment to offseason training marks a significant shift for Williamson, whose career has been marred by injuries and concerns about his fitness and commitment to the game. Since being selected as the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft out of Duke, the 21-year-old has been plagued by injuries, only participating in 114 out of a possible 308 regular-season games.
Williamson’s rookie year saw him in action for just 24 games, followed by 61 games in his sophomore year. Unfortunately, his third year in the league was entirely missed due to injury, and last season, he managed to appear in only 29 games.
The Pelicans’ interest in trading up during the 2023 NBA Draft to select Scoot Henderson fueled rumors about a potential deal involving Williamson, particularly with the Portland Trail Blazers, who ultimately drafted Henderson. However, no such trade materialized.
Despite concerns over his availability, Williamson secured a five-year, $194.3 million designated rookie contract extension with the Pelicans in July 2022. Griffin expressed optimism about the franchise’s current relationship with Williamson, asserting that it’s “as good as it’s ever been.”
In his own defense, Zion Williamson emphasized his genuine desire to play and his aversion to sitting out games. He told Gilbert Arenas, “I’m a hooper. When I’m sitting on the sidelines watching my teammates in certain games they’re losing, I know if I was out there, I could change the outcome. What I want people to know about me is I just want to hoop. I want to be out there. Nobody wants to just sit on the sideline. I think that’s what I want people to understand. I don’t want to be on the sideline. Y’all think I want to sit over there hurt? I don’t.”
Looking ahead, the basketball world eagerly awaits Williamson’s performance as he gears up for the upcoming training camp. The big question remains: how many games will he participate in during the 2023-24 season? His fans, teammates, and the entire NBA community will be watching closely as this promising young talent seeks to redefine his career trajectory.