As Zion Williamson has been attempting to rehab the right foot that he had surgery on in the offseason, the New Orleans Pelicans star has struggled to keep the rest of his body in playing shape.
In fact, ESPN's Tim MacMahon told Zach Lowe Tuesday that he's heard that the former No. 1 overall pick has seen his weight shoot up into the range of 330 pounds:
MacMahon, talking about Luka Dončić:...he has to stop reporting at 260+ pounds and playing his way into shape. That cannot be an annual storyline.
Lowe: I'm sorry -- what was the figure you just gave?
MacMahon: 260+. He has to stop doing that.
Lowe: What does Zion weigh then? I feel like Zion -- I know he weighs more than that -- but 260?!
MacMahon: The number that I've heard from several places on Zion is 70 pounds higher than 260. I'll let you do that math on that.
Before tailing off and allowing Lowe to speak, MacMahon seemingly was going to add the qualifier that perhaps Williamson has worked to reduce his weight recently. But certainly, the 21-year-old didn't look like he was close to being ready to play in an NBA game earlier this week:
This isn't meant to shame Williamson, but his job requires him to be in shape to compete with some of the most gifted athletes in the world. It's also not good to be carrying extra weight when you're attempting to alleviate stress on one of your feet.
Pelicans general manager David Griffin revealed in late September that Williamson had offseason surgery after fracturing the fifth metatarsal in the aforementioned right foot. At the time, though, Griffin seemed happy with the progress that Williamson was making, and said that the team was hopeful he would be ready for the start of the regular season.
Instead, Williamson has yet to play in the 2021-22 season, and had his workload scaled back for a few days last week as he dealt with soreness in the foot.
Williamson is hardly the first NBA star to put on weight while recovering from a foot injury. After all, it's hard to do much cardio work if you don't want to put stress on either one of your feet.
In January of 2015, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Joel Embiid was "close to 300 pounds after being 250 pounds" during his lone collegiate season at Kansas. Embiid was in the process of missing his entire rookie season as he recovered from pre-draft surgery on the navicular bone in his right foot. He would eventually have to undergo a second surgery on the foot, which cost him all of the 2015-16 season.
Despite all of that, Embiid has emerged as one of the league's most dominant players of the last five years, working his way back into peak physical shape and making four consecutive All-Star teams.
The difference is that Embiid is a 7-footer. Williamson is 6-foot-6, and his playing weight is usually closer to 285 pounds. If he's anywhere close to the weight that MacMahon has heard, he's putting his ability to properly recover from his injury in jeopardy.