Pelicans’ Zion Williamson Sounds Off On Critics: ‘I Just Want To Hoop’

Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans, NBA News
NBA Analysis Network

New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson told former NBA guard Gilbert Arenas that he’s not intentionally missing games.

There have been several questions about Williamson’s diet and commitment to basketball since he’s only played 114 out of possible 308 regular-season games since being drafted by the Pelicans with the first overall pick in the 2019 draft out of Duke.

“I’m a hooper,” Williamson said. “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.”

Williamson played in 24 games in his rookie year and 61 games in his sophomore year. The lefty then missed his entire third year and appeared in just 29 games last season.

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Zion Williamson & New Orleans Pelicans Updates

When he’s been on the court, Williamson has been a superstar. The North Carolina native has career averages of 25.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists while shooting 60.5% from the floor. However, the Pelicans are only 57-57 when Williamson plays.

Williamson told Arenas that in terms of getting ready for next season, he’s been trying to follow the blueprint of Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James.

“It’s more of locking in on flexibility, band work. I think it’s those things that will be able to keep me on the court longer rather than losing a bunch of weight and coming to play,” Williamson said, crediting James for the inspiration.”

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Zion Williamson & New Orleans Pelicans Updates

The Pelicans were interested in trading up in the 2023 draft to select Scoot Henderson. There were rumors about New Orleans trading Williamson to the Portland Trail Blazers, who drafted Henderson. However, no deal was made.

Williamson signed a five-year, $194.3 million designated rookie contract extension with the Pelicans in July 2022. New Orleans vice president of basketball operations David Griffin told Sirus XM Radio during Summer League in Las Vegas that the franchise’s relationship with Williamson is “as good as it’s ever been.”

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