Pelicans have ‘repeatedly stressed’ to Zion Williamson to improve diet, conditioning, but he ‘doesn’t listen’

Zion Williamson’s poor work ethic has been a source of frustration for the Pelicans since they drafted him No. 1 in 2019. The Pelicans have tried to surround Williamson with veterans who have track records of maximizing their potential. The team signed JJ Redick in 2019. In 2022, they traded for CJ McCollum. None of it has made an impact. The Pelicans have repeatedly stressed to Williamson that his diet and conditioning need to improve. Williamson, multiple team sources have told The Times-Picayune, “doesn’t listen.”
Source: Christian Clark @ New Orleans Times-Picayune

What’s the buzz on Twitter?

Christian Clark @cclark_13
The TNT guys were right. Zion is out of shape. He doesn’t run hard. He doesn’t rebound. Will Thursday be a wakeup call for him or just another night he is remembered for not maximizing his potential?…1:02 PM
Kurt Helin @basketballtalk
Zion Williamson owns flat play, ‘I just got to be more aggressive’…12:43 PM
Will Guillory @WillGuillory
Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram had a front row seat for a masterclass last night.
As LeBron displayed once again how much the national stage makes him stronger, the Pels’ star shrunk under the bright lights in Vegas.
“Tonight was a total letdown”…11:14 AM
Scott Kushner @ScottDKushner
Hey hey hey!
It’s @polkandkush Day!
– Pels humiliated by the Lakers in Vegas
– Zion is nowhere near superstar levels
– Loomis makes IMPOSSIBLY DUMB comments about Saints fans
– How can you not hate this team?
– A rain storm flooded the city (again)…9:50 AM
James Plowright @British_Buzz
Until Zion Williamson takes his own conditioning seriously, I’m out on him being a key part of any team. The guy I fell in love with in college was unique combination of strength, explosiveness and skill, that’s now gone. – 4:46 AM
Jake Fischer @JakeLFischer
For @YahooSports: On the Pelicans’ flop in Las Vegas, and what Zion Williamson says is holding him back…2:24 AM
Bill Simmons @BillSimmons
New BS Podcast!
—Notes from Vegas: LeBron vs Haliburton, the Zion Dilemma, Milwaukee in person, Foster’s black eye and more with @RobMahoney + Big Wos.
—A big-ass NFL December check-in w/ @PSchrags
—Still-hot Million Dollar Picks plus WTF Pats????…2:00 AM
Mike Trudell @LakersReporter
Austin Reaves pointed to the 3 first half charges that LeBron drew, particularly the 2 on Zion Williamson, as setting a tone for LAL competitively, amongst all of the other things LeBron did. – 12:12 AM
Will Guillory @WillGuillory
Zion Williamson: “I’ve got to be better. I’ve got to be more aggressive finding my shot. I’ve got to do more things to get my team going. I think I was too laid back tonight. I can’t do that. And defensively, I’ve got to be better.” – 12:12 AM
Will Guillory @WillGuillory
Final: Lakers 133, Pelicans 89
Murphy 14 pts
Williamson 13 pts
Ingram 9 pts, 7 assts
Pels get embarrassed on the national stage by a Lakers squad that outplayed them every way imaginable. Easily the worst loss of the season. – 11:39 PM
Will Guillory @WillGuillory
End of 3rd: Lakers 110, Lakers 71
Williamson 13 pts
Jones 10 pts, 7 rebs
Ingram 9 pts, 7 assts
Pels were outscored 43-17 in the 3rd. Maybe their ugliest quarter of the season. – 11:09 PM
Tony Jones @Tjonesonthenba
Every time I watch the Pelicans I’m shocked at how bad a defender Zion is. It’s legitimately shocking – 11:08 PM
Will Guillory @WillGuillory
LeBron James: 30 pts, 5 rebs, 8 assts, 9-12 FG
BI + Zion: 22 pts, 5 rebs, 8 assts, 10-17 FG
Pure dominance from the oldest guy on the court. – 10:56 PM
Will Guillory @WillGuillory
Zion is 1-6 on free throws – 10:50 PM
Christian Clark @cclark_13
Lakers, who average 9.9 3-point makes per game, have hit 11 at halftime. Pelicans need a lot more from Zion and/or CJ if they’re going to have a chance. Trail by 13 . – 10:26 PM
Will Guillory @WillGuillory
End of 1st half: Lakers 67, Pelicans 54
Ingram 9 pts, 3 assts
Zion 9 pts (4-4 FG)
Valanciunas 9 pts
LeBron took control with 18 pts in the 2nd quarter. AD also has 10 boards to JV’s 1. Lakers are playing faster and more physical. Pels need more from their 2 stars, Zion mostly. – 10:23 PM
Rob Perez @WorldWideWob
LeBron is guarding Zion’s jumpshot like it’s contagious. – 10:23 PM
Nick DePaula @NickDePaula
Zion Williamson debuts a new Zion 3 in Las Vegas PM

Oleh Kosel @OlehKosel
Zion Williamson needs to show a pulse defensively after halftime. There’s been no urgency in closing out, staying in front of assignments, helping teammates. Nothing.
It’s honestly stuck out like a sore thumb among the rest of his teammates throughout this first half. – 10:21 PM
Will Guillory @WillGuillory
Pels need more from Zion on both ends of the court. He’s gotta play with more force. – 10:18 PM
Mike Trudell @LakersReporter
After reaching 19 points with a layup, LeBron drew his 3rd charge, and 2nd on Zion. Incredible half from LeBron.
LAL are quickly back up 9 with a 7-0 run since LeBron returned. – 10:16 PM
Mike Trudell @LakersReporter
LeBron’s up to 17 points on 6 of 8 FG’s (3 of 3 from 3) and he just took his 2nd charge, one on Zion, one on Ingram.
LAL up 47-39. – 10:06 PM
Christian Clark @cclark_13
Three LeBron 3s to begin the quarter opened this up for the Lakers. Might I recommend getting the ball to Zion when Jax is guarding him. – 10:00 PM
Nate Duncan @NateDuncanNBA
Zion at center certainly didn’t work this time. Lakers got great shots on nearly every possession. – 10:00 PM
Will Guillory @WillGuillory
Lakers had Jaxson Hayes guarding Zion to start the 2nd quarter – 9:53 PM
Will Guillory @WillGuillory
End of 1st: Pelicans 30, Lakers 29
Williamson 6 pts, 2 assts
Ingram 4 pts, 2 assts
Jones 4 pts, 3 rebs
Pels doing a good job of avoiding fouls early and they’ve forced the Lakers into 5 turnovers. These minutes with no AD on the court will be big for both teams. – 9:51 PM
Christian Clark @cclark_13
Herb started the game on LeBron. Pelicans changed things up quickly and then had Ingram guard him. Also got Zion at the 5 minutes last 2.5 minutes of the quarter. – 9:51 PM
Will Guillory @WillGuillory
Pelicans going to their Zion-at-the-5 lineup early in this one while AD is still on the floor. – 9:46 PM
Nate Duncan @NateDuncanNBA
LeBron looking rather frustrated right now. He boxes out JV, his man Zion goes for an oreb. Then a Russell bad pass leads to more from Zion, and then Reddish fumbles LeBron’s pass out of bounds. – 9:39 PM
Will Guillory @WillGuillory
Zion has to be willing to attack all that space LeBron is giving him. – 9:32 PM
Ric Bucher @RicBucher
Love this matchup. All those Zion-is-the-next-LeBron declarations get the acid test. – 9:31 PM
John Hollinger @johnhollinger
LeBron with the textbook high school blockout on Zion as the Lakers get a floor board. All L.A. early. – 9:29 PM
Will Guillory @WillGuillory
LeBron is guarding Zion. Taurean Prince is guarding BI. – 9:27 PM
Christian Clark @cclark_13
LeBron guarding Zion to start this one. – 9:26 PM
Will Guillory @WillGuillory
Zion Williamson is on the floor beginning his warmup for the second semifinal game of the day PM

Christian Clark @cclark_13
Zion was right. It is like a stage. PM

Ball Don’t Lie @Balldontlie
Predict Zion’s stat line tonight vs. the Lakers ⬇ PM

Oleh Kosel @OlehKosel
Brandon Ingram has shined in the Play-In Tournament, the NBA playoffs and against the Lakers these last 3 years. Now he’s killing it in the In-Season Tournament.
Don’t be surprised if BI leaves the biggest mark in a game also featuring LeBron, AD & Zion.…4:03 PM

More on this storyline

But at the start of the season, it was clear Williamson was carrying too much weight. Most distressingly, he has not played himself into better shape, even though the regular season is more than one-quarter of the way over. If anything, Williamson’s conditioning has regressed. Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal, the two Hall of Fame big men who are now popular broadcasters with TNT, each gave Williamson fresh doses of tough love this week. O’Neal said he used to be “just like” Williamson. “Does not run hard,” O’Neal said. “It’s not a diss. It’s going to be a lesson from one great big man to another guy that can be a great big. Does not run hard. I had the same problem. I thought I was running hard.” O’Neal continued: “People used to pull me to the side. … ‘Hey man, you had 24 points, but you are not working as hard as you need to be.’ I was like, ‘What, what are you talking about?’ ” -via New Orleans Times-Picayune / December 8, 2023
“He does not run hard,” O’Neal began, referencing Williamson’s effort when running the floor. O’Neal then commented on Williamson’s inactivity to create easy points down the block. “He doesn’t seal. He doesn’t demand the ball. Like you got a small guy and we talk about it all the time. Barbecue Chicken. Charles (Barkley) talks about it all the time. You can’t let a little guy guard you,” O’Neal continued. The Hall of Famer also made it known that he hadn’t taken a liking to Williamson’s body language. “He doesn’t have that look. Like, I’m not the greatest ever but I know a look when I see it. … Tiger Woods had that look. Jack Nicholson had that look”. -via Clutch Points / December 8, 2023
“I have a problem where I literally just try to hunt the best shot possible every time,” Williamson said. “But I just gotta trust my game.” When asked about James sagging off his lack of outside stroke, Williamson offered: “I think a lot of times I’m overthinking it, and I shouldn’t be doing that out there.” -via Yahoo! Sports / December 8, 2023

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