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Karl Malone has a problem with Zion Williamson’s usage.
It’s hard to find even one bad thing to say about New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson, as the former No. 1 overall pick and highlight machine is becoming one of the league’s best power forwards while helping change the culture in New Orleans.
Somehow, Utah Jazz Hall-of-Famer Karl Malone, who is no stranger to controversy for what can charitably be called a questionable off-court life, thinks that he doesn’t have his foot all the way down on the gas pedal, using Zion’s 32.4 minutes per game average as proof.
On The Player’s Tribune’s “Knuckleheads” podcast, Malone claims that Williamson should be averaging 40 minutes a game, citing the belief that 20-year-olds like Zion can’t cite fatigue as a reason not to be on the floor for almost the whole game.
Zion Williamson has been extremely productive in his 32 minutes per game
Williamson is making the most of his time on the floor, averaging 22.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game on a Pelicans team that has become one of the best defensive teams in the league.
In a day in where star players aren’t playing 40 minutes a game as frequently as they did in past seasons, Zion’s 32.4 average is higher than some of the game’s best. LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, D’Angelo Russell and Bam Adebayo are all averaging fewer minutes per game than Zion.
Additionally, Williamson is averaging 32 minutes per game in his age-20 season. In Malone’s age 22-season, where he started 76 games as a rookie out of Louisiana Tech, he averaged 30.6 minutes per game, effectively ruining his entire point.
Not only does Malone’s analysis not hold up when observing that Zion plays more than some MVP candidates, but Williamson is playing more minutes per game at a younger age than Malone did. It appears that when you’ve been a star in the league, you don’t have to fact-check your own opinions when talking basketball.