Skip to main content

Is Zion Williamson destined to be the next Shawn Kemp?

Zion-Williamson-Shawn-Kemp

If you got tired of the Ben Simmons or Kyrie Irving sagas in Philadelphia and Brooklyn, don't worry because a new superstar is making airwaves with some drama of his own. New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson. Williamson's recovery from a right foot injury has been filled with setbacks, with concerns around the All-Star's weight raising questions about his commitment to the grind of NBA basketball. Zion is an unbelievable talent, but the best ability is availability, something that has been a weak point for the former Duke Blue Devil since he began his NBA career.

When he is on the court, Zion is absolutely brilliant. Last season, Williamson finished seventh in scoring on an impressive 60% from the field in just his second NBA season. However, his inability to work himself into superior basketball conditioning reminds me of a similar talent from the 90s, Shawn Kemp. Unfortunately for Kemp, his NBA success was short-lived, in a career highlighted by being out of shape for most of his supposed prime years.

Kemp helped lead the Seattle Supersonics to the NBA Finals in 1996, and along with Gary Payton, kept their team among the Western Conference's elite for most of their time together. Payton went on to have a Hall of Fame career while Kemp struggled to keep in shape during the 1999 lockout, never regaining his old form while quickly descending into basketball irrelevance. Kemp gained 35 lbs during the lockout.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

“He was really very honest about it,” former Cavs coach Mike Fratello recalled. “I said, ‘Shawn, how did this happen?’ He said, ‘Coach, I didn’t think we were coming back.’”

Mike Fratello, Cleveland.com

The story of "The Rain Man" is a cautionary tale about the rigors of the NBA, the moral of the story being that no player survives on talent alone. With reports of Zion missing rehab and falling asleep in film sessions, it seems as if the former first overall pick may be taking this opportunity for granted. When he's on the floor and in shape, Zion is unstoppable, but it seems that the battle against his physical fitness is going to be the greatest challenge of his young career.

Will Zion be able to turn the corner and get his body right? Or will he continue to rely on just his talent and suffer a fate similar to that of Shawn Kemp? It would be a shame to see such a talent have his career come to an end earlier than expected because of weight issues, especially one with a future as bright as Zion's.

Steve Kerr reflects on Jason Kidd’s transition from a superstar on the court to one of the top coaches in the league

Steve Kerr reflects on Jason Kidd’s transition from a superstar on the court to one of the top coaches in the league

Kerr notes how players of Kidd's caliber are rarely ever able to make the transition to coaching like Kidd has, making him quite a unique coach

Serge Ibaka reminds players not to sit out too long unless 'you're Kawhi or Kevin Durant or Stephen Curry

Serge Ibaka reminds players not to sit out too long unless 'you're Kawhi or Kevin Durant or Stephen Curry

When Ibaka realized he was out of the rotation after a devastating injury, he was prompted to make a tough decision and set an example to his fellow NBA players

John Salley on Larry Bird vs. Bill Limber fight

John Salley on the Bill Laimbeer vs. Larry Bird fight: "He hit him very legal"

Most people agree that Bill Laimbeer was the one who initiated the brawl with Larry Bird. But John Salley, Bill's former teammate, sees the incident differently.

Bruce Bowen

Bruce Bowen addresses his dirty player reputation ”It's who I am”

Bruce Bowen shares his honest take on being tagged as a dirty player.

stephen-a-smith-patrick-beverly-min

Patrick Beverly goes off on Stephen A. Smith: "You need to be drug tested. Get off the weed man!"

Safe to say, Pat Bev disagreed with Stephen A.'s take regarding James Harden and his possible new max contract.

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton

DeAndre Ayton’s video game obsession will cost him a lot, on and off the court

DeAndre Ayton's love for video games reduces his sleeping time to two hours on some nights. This isn't good news to fans and the front office that is not keen on giving him a max extension.

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler

“I know what I’m capable of” — Jimmy Butler shines the brightest as the Miami Heat draws first blood against the Boston Celtics

After a remarkable 42-point half, the Heat limited the Celtics to shoot just 2 out 15 from the field (13.3%) in the third quarter

Miami Heat small forward LeBron James on the floor vs. Dallas Mavericks

LeBron James admits 2011 Finals loss vs. Dallas Mavericks was the toughest one in his career

LeBron opened up on what the catastrophic 2011 Finals loss taught him.