Zion Williamson came under some major criticism in the aftermath of the New Orleans Pelicans’ In-Season Tournament loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night. Following his 13-point, 3-rebound effort in the team’s 133-89 loss, Williamson was on the receiving end of one of the more emphatic takedowns that we’ve seen by Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley. It very clearly came from a place of these two Hall of Fame inductees seeing untapped greatness in Williamson.
Their disappointment was echoed by J.J. Redick on Friday’s edition of NBA Today. Redick, who is one of the best personalities in the NBA media sphere at delivering these kinds of hard truths, expressed his disappointment in Williamson, both on the night and on the season. Part of it, as Redick said, is that “Zion Williamson has not bought into his own career yet.”
“The reality is Zion Williamson has not bought in to his own career yet.”
— JJ Redick on Zion pic.twitter.com/0kqqhm8IG5
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) December 8, 2023
“I was disappointed, and overall, I’ve been disappointed in Zion this season,” Redick said. “We can certainly point to counting stats and say he’s having a fine season, but you can be in the building, you can watch on TV, you can be courtside and you can see he’s not in shape. He’s still not in shape despite everything that he’s gone through. Despite numerous conversations with legends of the game about being in shape. He gets called out on national television once or twice a year for this thing, this very thing.
“Earlier this season, he had a press conference where he was trying to buy into what the team wanted, and the reality is, Zion Williamson has not bought into his own career yet,” Redick continued. “And that is disappointing because as someone who’s a fan of his, a former teammate, a fellow Duke guy, I know — we all know — how great he can be. We’ve seen those flashes of greatness. But to do that for an extended period of time, to reach his full potential — and really, RJ, that’s all we can ask for as players, whatever your potential is, to reach that — he’s never gonna get there if he doesn’t buy in to his own career.”
As Redick mentioned, he and Williamson were teammates for half a season in New Orleans back in 2020-21, which was the first year that Williamson earned a spot on an All-Star team. On the year, Williamson is averaging 22.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, both of which are the lowest marks of his career.