Zion Williamson’s foray into Summer League play with the New Orleans Pelicans was a short-lived one to say the least, and the No. 1 overall pick’s college coach believes there was no reason for the phenom to be on the court in the first place.
Williamson exited his Summer League debut last week after playing only nine minutes with what has been described as a bone bruise in his left knee. The decision to sit Williamson was deemed a precautionary one, but it nevertheless resulted in an underwhelming, inauspicious first appearance on the NBA stage.
Duke Blue Devils basketball boss Mike Krzyzewski, who coached Williamson for one season, believes his former player should have never been put in such a position, as relayed by Adam Zagoria of Forbes.
“No, I thought really he never should’ve played just because he’s been on this circuit of awards, the ESPYs, everything,” Coach K told me at the Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C., where he’s recruiting this week. “I don’t think he’s in the playing shape or the mental shape to play.”
Coach K’s assessment of the situation comes on the heels of ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg’s damning assessment that Williamson is “not in shape” and “significantly overweight.”
“He couldn’t move. He couldn’t move,” Greenberg said of Williamson during Thursday’s edition of “Get Up” on ESPN. “And in the end, if he’s going to have a long career — and you made a great point earlier. When [Charles] Barkley was at his very best, he got in world-class shape. And it’s nothing to do with his weight, to me, it has to do with his conditioning. And right now, he’s in condition to get hurt, not to be a great player.”
The Pelicans without question were wise to exercise extreme caution with Williamson and pull him off the court. It’s hardly a surprise that Krzyzewski came to Williamson’s defense, either, and odds are in retrospect the Pelicans probably wish they had opted not to play him in the first place.