Sports | February 23, 2022 10:07 am

“Detached Teammate” Zion Williamson Ripped for “Lack of Investment” in Team

Williamson's former New Orleans Pelicans teammate JJ Redick recently tore into the ex-Dukie on ESPN

Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans stands on the court prior to the start of an NBA game
Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans stands on the court prior to the start of an NBA game.
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Limited to 24 games as a rookie after being selected No. 1 overall in the 2019 NBA Draft out of Duke by the Pelicans due to the combination of a torn meniscus and the stoppage of play because of COVID-19, Zion Williamson went on to play in 61 of a possible 72 games in his sophomore season for New Orleans.

Williamson, who averaged 27.0 points on 61.1% shooting and was named an NBA All-Star for the first time last season, has yet to take the floor during what should be his third year in the league after suffering a broken foot while performing basketball drills with his stepfather last summer.

With the Pelicans 13 games below .500 coming out of the All-Star break at 23-36, it is becoming increasingly unlikely that Williamson will take the floor at all this season. If he doesn’t, that will mean the 21-year-old will basically have played the equivalent of a full season in the NBA in terms of games entering his fourth year in the league.

Originally cleared to participate in five-on-five practices at full speed in late November before he began to experience renewed foot soreness, Williamson has begun to face criticism for his perceived lack of dedication to being an NBA pro. At the front of the line of Williamson’s critics is his former Pelicans teammate JJ Redick, who recently ripped into the ex-Dukie on ESPN. (Redick is also a former Blue Devil.)

“There’s a responsibility that you have as an athlete when you play a team sport to be fully invested,” Redick said on First Take. “You’re fully invested in your body, you’re fully invested in your work and you’re fully invested in your teammates. That is your responsibility, and we have not seen that from Zion.”

Redick announced his retirement and joined ESPN as an NBA analyst before this season but was with Williamson in New Orleans for parts of the past two seasons. According to the retired sharpshooter, he aired his grievances with Williamson while they were both still playing.

“This is something I addressed with Zion in front of the team,” Redick said. “This is going back to his rookie year. This is a pattern of behavior with Zion that we are seeing again and again. I was his teammate, I can describe him as a detached teammate, that is an accurate statement.”

Per ESPN, the Pelicans have approved Williamson rehabbing away from the team in Portland.

“I love it here. I love the city of New Orleans. I don’t want to be anywhere else,” Williamson has previously said about playing for the Pelicans. Until Williamson actually plays, expect critics like Redick to keep taking, and making, shots at him.