Zion Williamson explains how he’s drawing inspiration from LeBron James in order to stay healthy

Mike Battaglino
4 Min Read

Zion Williamson is using the ageless LeBron James as an example for how to prepare for an NBA season, saying that the Los Angeles Lakers superstar has “got the blueprint” when it comes to what to do.

Williamson has struggled mightily to stay on the court for the New Orleans Pelicans during his four years in the NBA, missing 194 out of a possible 308 regular season games, including all of the 2021-22 season because of a foot injury.

The 23-year-old has been criticized at times for his weight but dismissed the idea that dieting is the biggest key to his preparation.

“So, the diet piece, I’m always able to come back each summer feeling good, looking good,” Williamson said. “But I would say it’s more of just locking in on flexibility, band work, ’cause I think it’s those things that’ll be able to keep me on the court longer versus just losing a bunch of weight and then coming to play and not being able to maintain that. … Bron got the blueprint. I’m just trying my best to follow it.”

When on the court, Williamson has been a force. The No. 1 pick of the 2019 NBA Draft has averaged 25.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in the 114 appearances he’s been able to make.

Last season, he did not play after early January, finishing the campaign with averages of 26.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. He has been the subject of trade rumors this offseason, with one prominent NBA observer saying his departure from the Pelicans seemed imminent at one point.

That led to Damian Lillard weighing in, noting his desire for Williamson to come to the Portland Trail Blazers. That came before Lillard asked to be traded away from the team.

James just finished his 20th NBA season and showed that he is still among the game’s best players, averaging 28.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game during the regular season and leading the Lakers to a surprise appearance in the Western Conference Finals.

He did miss 27 games in the regular season, some with a foot injury suffered in late February. It was thought it might require surgery this offseason, and though there has been no word on any procedure so far, the Lakers reportedly are optimistic about his health.

James has played a full 82 games just once, but he has played at least 67 regular season games 15 times. He missed 12 games total in his first four NBA seasons after he was the No. 1 pick in the 2003 NBA Draft.

Though James hinted at retirement after the Lakers were swept by the Nuggets in the conference finals, general manager Rob Pelinka recently said the veteran is preparing for this season with “behind-the-scenes” work.

Whatever James is doing, Williamson is likely keeping a close eye on him.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. He remembers the birth of "Showtime" and has always admired the star power the Lakers have brought to the game.