NBA

Zion needs to 'get in shape' to reach potential, warns Karl Malone

By Sports Desk January 20, 2021

Zion Williamson needs to "get in shape" if he is to fulfil his potential in the NBA, according to Hall of Famer Karl Malone.

New Orleans selected Williamson with the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft but a meniscus tear in preseason and a season shortened by the coronavirus pandemic meant he played just 24 games in his rookie campaign.

The Duke product is up to 36 games – still less than half the standard season – but former power forward Malone, a two-time MVP who had All-NBA First Team honours on 11 occasions, thinks he need to improve his physique if he is to maximise his abilities.

Williamson is listed at six foot, seven inches and 284 pounds, with Malone pointing to Glen 'Big Baby' Davis as an example of someone who did not live up to their billing due to their size – Davis was 6ft 9in and played at 289 pounds.

"I love Zion Williamson. Zion needs to get into shape. If he doesn't get in shape, we might not ever know his full potential," Malone said on The Players' Tribune's Knuckleheads podcast.

"There's a young man that played at LSU, 'Big Baby' Davis. Big Baby made a comment about eight months ago, he did an ESPN show … he came on that show and he said, 'Look guys, I'm about to get into trouble now with what I'm about to say. I know everybody loves Zion and I love him too. But Zion has the same body type that I had.'

"He was talking about himself. And he said if he doesn't get into shape, we'll never know his full potential. And he did get heat from that."

Williamson had 32 points with five rebounds and three assists as the Pelicans suffered a 118-102 defeat to the Utah Jazz on Tuesday, New Orleans losing for the sixth time in seven games to slip to 5-8 for the season.

This season the 20-year-old is averaging 23.4 points and 8.0 rebounds in 32.6 minutes per game. That ranks him 44th in minutes per game, with his usage percentage of 29.1 enough for 39th in the league.

However, he leads in the league in contested three-points shots per game at 5.9.

Malone added: "I'm still waiting on him to play the whole damn season… and he needs to be averaging 40 minutes per game. Look here, you're a 21, 22-year-old kid. Your a** shouldn't get tired."

Related items

  • Bucks star Giannis relishes blockbuster battles after taming Kawhi's Clippers: Feels like greatness Bucks star Giannis relishes blockbuster battles after taming Kawhi's Clippers: Feels like greatness

    Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo relishes going up against the best in the world, saying it feels like "greatness" after taking down Kawhi Leonard's Los Angeles Clippers in a rallying display.

    Antetokounmpo posted 36 points, including 17 in the final quarter, and 14 rebounds as the Bucks outlasted the Clippers 105-100 in NBA action on Sunday.

    Two-time reigning MVP Antetokounmpo fuelled a game-closing 9-0 run to help extend Milwaukee's winning streak to five games.

    Antetokounmpo became the first Bucks player with 35-plus points in four consecutive games since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1973 as Leonard and fellow All-Star Paul George struggled during the closing stages.

    Leonard (25 points and nine rebounds) and George (16 points) went cold in the final quarter for the Clippers, combining to shoot three-for-15 and scoring just six points as the visitors were scoreless over the last four minutes of the game.

    "It was individual pride," Antetokounmpo said of taking on the All-Star duo. "It is pride. It is an ego thing. Personally, I love that going down the stretch.

    "I feel like it's greatness. When you go against the best in the world down the stretch and you are trying to get a stop and they are trying to score on you to win the game, it's greatness developing at that moment."

    After dropping five straight games, the Bucks are now riding a winning streak in the Eastern Conference.

    The Bucks (21-13) are one game adrift of leaders the Philadelphia 76ers (22-12) in the east.

    "When we lost five, a lot of people were panicking," Antetokounmpo said. "Now, we win five and no one is talking about it. That is how it goes.

    "Being able to get out of it, snap out of it ... that is what matters. This is important ... it's not over. We are not done yet. We might go again on a seven-game losing streak, 10. Hopefully not. I don't want to put it out in the universe. [But] there is no panic."

  • Giannis in a 48-year first for Bucks, LeBron's Lakers beat Warriors in milestone NBA game Giannis in a 48-year first for Bucks, LeBron's Lakers beat Warriors in milestone NBA game

    Giannis Antetokounmpo starred as the Milwaukee Bucks rallied past the Los Angeles Clippers 105-100 in NBA action on Sunday.

    Antetokounmpo posted 36 points – 17 in the final quarter – 14 rebounds and five assists for the Bucks, who used a game-closing 9-0 run to extend their winning streak to five games.

    Two-time reigning MVP Antetokounmpo became the first Bucks player with 35-plus points in four consecutive games since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1973.

    Meanwhile, LeBron James appeared in his 1,300th regular-season game as defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers eased past the Golden State Warriors 117-91.

    James scored 19 points in his milestone game – the four-time NBA champion becoming the 23rd player in league history to appear in that many regular-season contests.

     

    Beal stars again

    Bradley Beal put on a show with 46 points for the Washington Wizards, who still narrowly lost 111-110 to the Boston Celtics. In his last three games in Boston, Beal has tallied 44, 41 and 46 points. According to Stats Perform, he is the first player to score 40-plus points in three successive road games against the Celtics since Abdul-Jabbar between 1970 and 1971.

    The Memphis Grizzlies crushed the Houston Rockets 133-84. On February 1, the Grizzlies won at the San Antonio Spurs by 31 points while they humbled the Rockets by 49 on Sunday. They are the second team in NBA history to have two 30-plus point road wins in the same state in the same month, according to Stats Perform. The other team was the Washington Bullets (now known as the Wizards) in 1968.

    Devin Booker recorded 43 points, while Deandre Ayton (22 points and 10 rebounds) and Chris Paul (11 points and 15 assists) contributed double-doubles in the Phoenix Suns' 118-99 success away to the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves.

    John Collins' 34-point, 10-rebound double-double was not enough for the Atlanta Hawks, who went down 109-99 to the Miami Heat.

    P.J. Washington's 42 points helped the Charlotte Hornets edge the Sacramento Kings 127-126. Sacramento led by eight points with just over a minute remaining before Charlotte rallied at the death.

     

    Rockets crash as Clippers capitulate

    The Rockets have suffered 11 consecutive defeats after being embarrassed by the Grizzlies. Houston are now riding their longest losing streak since a 15-game skid in 2001.

    All-Star pair Kawhi Leonard (25 points and nine rebounds) and Paul George went cold in the final quarter for the Clippers. Leonard and George combined to shoot three-for-15 and scored just six points in the fourth period against the Bucks. The Clippers were scoreless over the final four minutes of the game.

     

    Giannis with the slam!

    It was a masterclass in Milwaukee, where Antetokounmpo flexed his muscles with a monster dunk during the closing stages.

     

    Sunday's results

    Los Angeles Lakers 117-91 Golden State Warriors
    Memphis Grizzlies 133-84 Houston Rockets
    Miami Heat 109-99 Atlanta Hawks
    New York Knicks 109-90 Detroit Pistons
    Boston Celtics 111-110 Washington Wizards
    Milwaukee Bucks 105-100 Los Angeles Clippers
    Charlotte Hornets 127-126 Sacramento Kings
    Phoenix Suns 118-99 Minnesota Timberwolves
    Chicago Bulls-Toronto Raptors (postponed)

     

    Nets at Spurs

    After their eight-game winning streak came to an end in the absence of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on Saturday, the high-flying Brooklyn Nets (22-13) will look to bounce back against the Spurs (17-12) on Monday.

  • Milan considering Tomori purchase from Chelsea as Pioli hails loanee Milan considering Tomori purchase from Chelsea as Pioli hails loanee

    Milan technical director Paolo Maldini said the club are weighing up whether to sign Fikayo Tomori permanently from Premier League giants Chelsea.

    Tomori has impressed since arriving on loan in January, the 23-year-old's impact highlighted by his starting berth at the expense of captain Alessio Romagnoli in Milan's 2-1 win over Roma on Sunday.

    Milan have an option to buy Tomori at the end of the season – the fee reportedly in the region of £25million (€28m).

    Asked about Tomori's future prior to Milan's Serie A victory away to Roma, Maldini told Sky Sport Italia: "Tomori is a good talent and we have a buy-option clause.

    "The price is very high. AC Milan will decide at the end of this season and we will discuss it with Chelsea's board."

    "Fortunately, I work for a club that has an effect on players. When AC Milan call, the players always listen," Maldini added.

    "Fikayo is a player with particular characteristics, pace and intensity, so we thought he could be a good reinforcement for this second half of the season.

    "Naturally, Romagnoli isn't happy, no player is when he doesn't play. However, Milan are 17 points better off than last season, we're second despite having more commitments and many injuries, so squad rotation is necessary and Alessio has played pretty much every game."

    Tomori partnered Simon Kjaer in Milan's defence as second-placed Milan stayed within four points of leaders Inter after 24 matches.

    Franck Kessie and Ante Rebic scored for Milan, while Tomori had an early goal ruled out for offside.

    Tomori had a team-high six clearances and two blocks, while he attempted the most passes (60) with an accuracy of 88.3 per cent at the heart of Milan's defence.

    Milan head coach Stefano Pioli hailed Englishman Tomori post-match: "I expected this performance, because Tomori played a derby a couple of days after joining us, so he's been at this level from the start.

    "I still believe it's the collective that allows the individual to perform and all together we won a very important match.

    "Roma have players with a lot of pace and quality in attack, so we knew that we were taking a risk, but we also recovered more balls in the opposition half – finally – and were therefore more dangerous in attack.

    "It's about weighing up the costs and benefits of an approach, and this approach is giving us more benefits."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.