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Pelicans’ David Griffin acknowledges Zion Williamson is ‘not normal’

Pelicans, Zion Williamson, David Griffin

The quest to get Zion Williamson back on the court has been an exhausting yet fascinating one for the New Orleans Pelicans. Executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin has been closely monitoring Williamson’s rehabilitation as well as keeping an eye on how to best trot his No. 1 overall pick into action.

Williamson, who measured an inch shorter than the 6-foot-7 he was listed at during his lone year at Duke, weighed 285 pounds coming into his freshman college season — a weight a lot of NBA people viewed with uncertainty.

Griffin didn’t express much concern with his weight but noted the team’s training staff would ensure he’s eating right and keeping healthy during his recovery. Yet Griffin’s main concern wasn’t the number of pounds on the scale, but rather the mechanics involving his every move on the court:

“Our challenge with Zion is: How do you continue to give him enough strength to control the torque he generates without adding weight that increases the torque in and of itself,” Griffin told ESPN’s Baxter Holmes. “Giving him the ability to be flexible enough and to have the right mechanics, and supporting that flexibility with the strength that it takes to control it in the form of a kid who adds muscle mass as fast as any human being I’ve ever seen.”

Williamson is a freak of nature, unlike any Griffin or anyone in the organization has ever seen. Multiple tests confirm it too.

David Griffin shared an anecdote about how the Pelicans put in a team-wide heavy weight-lifting routine for a week during the offseason. The No. 1 pick gained a whopping eight pounds of muscle during that span — a gain that shocked staffers. Griffin acknowledged Zion’s uniqueness:

“He’s not normal,” Griffin says. “So finding stasis with Zion is the challenge, because he’s 19 years old. He’s still growing. It’s not going to be about a number. It’s going to be about metrics of flexibility and strength and control and all of the different things that we can measure that really are outside of weight.”

The Pelicans aren’t dealing with a finished product, but rather a highly volatile, fluctuating number in a growing human being. At 19 years old, Zion Williamson is only beginning to comprehend his own strength and athleticism, and so are the Pelicans, who keep a close watch on his every move.