There aren’t many NBA players who can sit out their entire third season and still ink a five-year US$193 million (AU$276 million) rookie max contract extension. Then again, there aren’t any players quite like Zion Williamson.
Williamson might just be the most exciting factor heading into the 2022-2023 NBA season, but the New Orleans Pelicans are right to be cautious about their franchise player. After drafting him with the #1 pick in 2019, he only played 24 games throughout his rookie year due to injury concerns. Then, he fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot.
The injuries have largely been attributed to Williamson flying through the air and landing with all of that mass. And clearly, the New Orleans Pelicans seem to think so as well. Christian Clark of Nola.com indicates the organisation is well within its right to financially penalise the big fella if his weight reaches above 295 lbs (134 kg) and if his body fat percentage exceeds a certain limit. The contract also stipulates that Zion Williamson will have periodic weigh-ins throughout the season.
Williamson has always been larger than life. At USA Basketball’s junior minicamp when he was just 17 years old, he already weighed around 274 lbs (124 kg). Entering the NBA, he was listed at around 284 lbs (128 kg) and reportedly breached 300 lbs (136 kg) while his foot was recovering. In many ways, this weight adds to the force and power which makes Williamson such a dominant force on the court.
Though this isn’t all just some cruel joke for the star forward. The contract also includes escalators that could push his US$193 million (AU$276 million) contract to US$231 million (AU$330 million) based on his performance.
Bone health aside, Zion Williamson is still well and truly worth the gamble of his huge contract. In his second season, he was named an NBA All-Star after averaging 27 points per game on 61.1% shooting from the field. The guy is the real deal. He just needs to stay on that treadmill and away from the Maccas.