Kendrick Perkins Believes Zion Williamson Shouldn’t Play Until the 2022-23 Season Since He’s Overweight: ‘Go Get Some Dietitian’

The New Orleans Pelicans were hoping that Zion Williamson would make his 2021-22 season debut soon. However, the Duke product is experiencing soreness in his surgically repaired right foot, which is causing a delay in his rehab.

The Pelicans cleared Williamson to participate in contact drills in November. In the offseason, the All-Star underwent surgery for a fractured right foot, the second major surgery he’s had since entering the NBA as the No. 1 overall pick in 2019. Williamson played in only 24 games during his rookie season because of a torn right meniscus.

New Orleans has the second-worst record in the Western Conference. The franchise won’t make the playoffs this season, which is why former NBA big man and current ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins believes Williamson shouldn’t play until next season.

Kendrick Perkins calls for Zion Williamson to sit out the entire season

Williamson still looks overweight when he’s shown on the sideline watching Pelicans games. According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, the lefty weighed over 300 pounds in the offseason after undergoing surgery to repair his broken foot. Williamson also looked noticeably heavier during Pelicans Media Day and in a national Mountain Dew commercial he was in.

Since the Pelicans won’t make the playoffs this season and Williamson’s long-term health is of vital importance, Perkins says New Orleans should shut the North Carolina native down for the entire campaign.

“Shut him down,” Perkins said on NBA Today. “There’s no reason to even bring him back. The Pelicans are not going anywhere. We all know that it’s more to the foot. It’s more about Zion not being in shape. Go get some dietitian, get some things together in-house with Zion, get him to get his body right, and bring him back next year.”

Williamson has only played in 85 games for the Pelicans. While he hasn’t necessarily been in the best shape since entering the NBA, the 21-year-old has been a force on the offensive side of the floor when he’s played.

Zion Williamson has been stellar when he’s played

Williamson is averaging 25.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.2 assists in 85 games while shooting 60.4% from the field, 33.3% from beyond the arc, and 68.3% from the free-throw line. He has a player efficiency rating of 26.3 and scored 362 points in the first 15 games of his career. Only Michael Jordan, Bernard King, and Terry Cummings scored more points in their first 15 NBA contests.

In the post-Anthony Davis era, the Pelicans were optimistic that Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and Lonzo Ball could lead the franchise to the playoffs. However, New Orleans missed the postseason in 2020 and 2021 and traded Ball to the Chicago Bulls as part of a sign-and-trade deal in restricted free agency this past offseason. It’s worth mentioning that Williamson wanted the Pelicans to re-sign Ball.

Last season, Williamson put up 27.0 points per game and shot 61.1% from the floor. He looked like a smaller version of Shaquille O’Neal. It’s unfortunate Williamson broke his foot because he was primed to have an even better 2021-22 season. The hope in New Orleans is that Zanos can play at some point this season and put up spectacular numbers again to ease some of the fan base’s concern.

However, Perkins makes a good point when he states that Williamson shouldn’t play at all this season. After all, if the youngster doesn’t get in better shape, he’s susceptible to getting hurt again, and that’s the last thing the Pelicans need.

Kendrick Perkins may be right

There’s really no point for the Pelicans to bring Williamson back this season other than to sell more tickets. According to Basketball Reference, New Orleans ranks 20th of 30 in attendance.

Even though Williamson is a star, his presence alone won’t help the Pelicans make a drastic turnaround and reach the postseason. The team has already dug too deep of a hole, and the Western Conference is rugged.

Williamson’s goal for this season should be to get into the best shape possible. He looked slim and athletic during his rookie season before the campaign was suspended in March due to COVID-19. Williamson looked a tad bit overweight in the Walt Disney World bubble and wasn’t as explosive as he typically is.

The Pelicans can sign Williamson to a rookie-scale extension this offseason. It’s worth noting that the CBA rules are set up to financially motivate players coming off their rookie contracts to stay with the team that drafted them. Even though it would be a bummer not to see Williamson play this season, it may be a blessing in disguise if he can get into elite shape again and have a full year to rest his surgically repaired foot.

RELATED: Zion Williamson Watched the Pelicans Respect His Preference for Privacy After Breaking His Foot and Undergoing Surgery, but It May Have Hurt the Team’s Credibility With the Fan Base