This NBA draft class hasn’t been the greatest, and one of the reasons is that Zion Williamson has not played a regular season minute so far. He will be returning soon, but will be on the Kawhi Leonard schedule (no back-to-backs).
We are now a shade over the six week mark since he got injured, the original time table being 6-8 weeks. Hopefully we can see him make a push at Rookie of the Year and make the season a bit more exciting.
However, there were doubts that New Orleans was a good spot for Zion right from the start, and he didn’t feel excited to play there at first. But he warmed up to the idea, and still got a massive shoe deal even though he will start his career in a small market. It might not be a great spot to get sponsorships like Shaq, but there’s another reason it’s a bad spot for him.
That reason is the Louisiana lifestyle.
There have been multiple stories and first person accounts, as well as scientific data, that prove a lot of the more popular foods there are not healthy for anyone, and especially not young athletes. I don’t think jambalaya and red beans and rice are good things to put into your body if you want to physically compete at the highest level.
In a recent NBA podcast Chris Ryan, journalist for The Ringer, said that when he covered the Pelicans he and the players often stopped at a Wendy’s or something similar after games because they ‘were the only things open that late’.
There were reports that Zion put on a bunch of weight over the summer, and I have no doubt that most of it can be attributed to the the New Orleans lifestyle. Seeing that he was already one of the heaviest players and his weight is a big concern, this isn’t a good sign. He only played nine minutes of Summer League before getting injured, and he already needed surgery without playing a regular season game.
He is not the only one affected by the lifestyle on the Pelicans. According to Andrew Lopez of ESPN, every single Pelicans player has missed at least a game, and only four players have been completely healthy throughout the short season. The Pelicans have had more injuries than the Golden State Warriors, believe it or not. While only Zion and Derrick Favors are out at the moment, they have been plagued with injuries the entire year.
After the past years of injuries, the Pelicans organization decided to hire a whole new training and medical staff this offseason. Many people were surprised when this year’s injuries have been worse than last years. But there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for this.
This year, they have tons of young players. There are nine guys on the roster that are 24 or younger, and there are only two guys that are 30 or older. That might seem like the perfect team for the future, but not in New Orleans.
Most guys in college didn’t have someone telling them what to eat, so they come into the NBA unaware of what’s best for peak performance. NBA teams do have dieticians, but I doubt many 20 year olds are listening to them word for word, and aren’t too serious about their diet at their age. The older players get, the more wise they are about things like diet and sleep.
New Orleans fans, you’re not cursed, you just need to make sure your players know what to eat. Or change the entire city’s lifestyle. Your pick.
(Photo Credit: RealGM)