Coach K: Zion Williamson was out of shape, 'never should've played' in Summer League

Ryan Young
Yahoo Sports Contributor
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said he thought Zion Williamson was too out of shape to be playing in the NBA Summer League — and he's not the only one. (AP/Steve Marcus)

Zion Williamson has had a lot on his plate since he played his final game with Duke in the NCAA tournament.

Williamson, who went No. 1 overall in the NBA draft last month to the New Orleans Pelicans, has been seemingly everywhere — from draft appearances, interviews, awards shows and more.

That’s exactly why Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski thinks that Williamson shouldn’t have played in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas at all. He simply wasn’t ready to get back out on the court.

“I thought really he never should've played just because he's been on this circuit of awards, the ESPYs, everything,” Krzyzewski said, via Forbes’ Adam Zagoria. “I don't think he's in the playing shape or the mental shape to play.”

Williamson started out strong in his Summer League debut with the Pelicans, scoring his first bucket with a massive dunk down low.

He finished that game with 11 points and three rebounds in just nine minutes, and was pulled from the game at halftime after he took a knee-to-knee hit to his left knee. The Pelicans announced the next day that he would miss the remainder of the Summer League due to “an abundance of caution.”

While Williamson’s injury — which isn’t likely to impact him next season — almost certainly wasn’t caused due to him being “out of shape,” Krzyzewski isn’t the only one to notice Williamson’s conditioning, or lack thereof.

ESPN’s Seth Greenberg said on “Get Up” this week that he thought Williamson was overweight — something the Duke star has been called before when he was at a USA Basketball Camp in 2017.

“My concern isn’t about his game,” Greenberg said. “My concern is about his body. You can’t improve unless you’re in shape, and he is not in shape ... Whatever his weight is, it’s significantly overweight.”

Williamson has plenty of time to get back into playing shape before the season starts. It’s only July, after all. And, as an NBA lottery pick, Williamson will be surrounded by some of the best trainers in the country. There is little doubt that the Pelicans have the means to help Williamson get to where he needs to go.

So for the remainder of the offseason, it appears that Williamson doesn’t need to fine-tune his game. Instead, he simply needs to get back into playing shape again.

“When [Charles] Barkley was at his very best, he got in world-class shape,” Greenberg said. “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.”

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