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David Griffin: ‘Zion’s still growing’

2019 Las Vegas Summer League - Day 1 - New York Knicks v New Orleans Pelicans

Las Vegas, NV - JULY 5: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans taunts during the game against the New York Knicks during Day 1 of the 2019 Las Vegas Summer League on July 5, 2019 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

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There was a lot of idle talk around the Las Vegas Summer League about Zion Williamson’s weight, conditioning, and ultimate playing weight. While he only suited up for half of one game, it’s safe to say Williamson was not exactly in peak playing condition. Which is irrelevant at what amount to exhibition games in July, but it raised a few eyebrows.

What is Williamson’s ideal playing weight?

The Pelicans don’t know because he is still growing, according to New Orleans head honcho David Griffin, speaking to Jeff Duncan of The Athletic.

“Yeah, I don’t know that we can determine a weight yet. Zion’s still growing. One of the things that’s lost in this whole process is that, like Jaxson Hayes, Zion is still getting taller. We’re not exactly sure what he’ll look like in the end. So a playing weight is not what you look for. What you look for is to be in top condition, to have the kind of core strength and stability that you need to control all of the incredible torque that his athleticism can generate.... That’s really where [VP of player care] Aaron Nelson and his team are going to focus their efforts, because Zion is one of those kids, like LeBron, he’s not going to lift a weight because he’ll add muscle and weight so quickly. So what you have to do with him is do everything you can from a core and stability standpoint to give him more ability to control what he already has in terms of strength and speed.”

Working out is part of it, but you can’t outrun your diet — and living in New Orleans can make eating healthy that much harder.

The Pelicans are on it.

“As you pointed out, New Orleans is not an easy place to live and eat when you’re a 19-year-old kid and can literally eat anything you want. There can be some temptation there, so we’ll certainly try to put him in a position to be surrounded by more of the right decisions (nutritionally). But, for the most part, we don’t know what he’ll end up looking like because he’s still growing. When he entered Duke he was clearly shorter than R.J. Barrett, and I think you saw (at the Vegas Summer League) he was clearly taller than R.J. Barrett. So it’ll be interesting to see where that goes.”

Williamson’s conditioning is not likely a long-term concern, like a lot of young players he will find the jump from college-level conditioning to NBA level a challenge but he will at some point figure it out.

How he develops as a shooter and playmaker (Griffin says he could be a Draymond Green-like playmaker) will be far more interesting to watch over the coming years.