Karl Malone cannot fathom that Zion Williamson isn’t averaging 40 minutes a night for a team looking to make the playoffs.
Through 35 games for the New Orleans Pelicans, Zion is averaging fewer than 30 minutes a game. This kind of sporadic availability has made it for them to dominate teams as they could. Zion is being protected from injury and overexertion by his team, but at what cost?
The Pelicans are off to a 5-7 start to the season, already behind a pack of teams that will be doing their best to make the playoffs this year. With the exception of the Thunder, practically every team out West will be a force to reckon with. None of the games against any of these teams can be taken for granted.
Zion’s skillset should ideally suit him as a small-ball 5. But the Pelicans have hardly used him in that role, opting instead to field him with Steven Adams.
Karl Malone believes Zion Williamson has bad conditioning
For a player from the toughest generation in the NBA, load management and minutes restrictions are definitely alien concepts. Karl Malone believes that Zion being played such low minute totals every game is a consequence of poor conditioning. He wasn’t afraid to say so on The Knuckleheads podcast:
“Zion needs to be averaging like 40 minutes per game… you’re a 21 year old kid… your a** shouldn’t be getting tired.”
Karl Malone calls out Zion Williamson: “Zion needs to be averaging like 40 minutes per game… you’re a 21 year old kid… your a** shouldn’t be getting tired.”
Sheesh. 👀 (via Knuckleheads Podcast/ @PlayersTribune)
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) January 20, 2021
At this rate, Brandon Ingram will have a really tough workload all year long. He will need to assert himself as the team’s star scorer for all times to come. Ingram has the unenviable task of shepherding the Pelicans to the playoffs with a bad defensive unit around him this year.