ESPN analyst takes unnecessary shot at Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans

Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans continue to be an easy target for ESPN talking heads.

New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Lakers
New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Lakers / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith takes a completely unnecessary shot at Zion Williamson and Zion Williamson.

Heading into the final stretch of the season, there may be many teams with plenty of big-picture questions to answer about their future. And the New Orleans Pelicans are certainly one of their teams, with Zion Williamson being at the very center of those concerns. However, there's a time and place for everything.

In the middle of a push for the postseason with the team playing its best basketball in quite some time probably isn't the best time for those discussions. However, there are some in the media that don't seem to understand the moment.

On a recent hit on ESPN's Get Up, Stephen A. Smith took a completely unnecessary shot at Zion as he was questioned about which team (or player, I presume) was under the most pressure heading into the final stretch run.

On one hand, this "take" or "shot" at Zion is understandable. He's a player that has struggled with his weight over the course of his career in the NBA. However, at the same time, this is essentially the same thing as fat shaming. Quite frankly, at least in my book, is unnecessary. Especially considering that SAS has a national platform, and he knows this.

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What makes it all even more curious is the fact that the Pelicans are actually in a good spot in the Western Conference standings. They're 5th in the West with a 34-22 record. Zion has at least played a small part in the team's success this season.

Understandably, Zion hasn't played as his usual dominant self this season. He's playing fewer minutes, averaging fewer points, and rebounds than any of the previous two seasons. All that said, Zion is still the leading scorer on the team while averaging 22 points, five rebounds, and five assists per game. He's also on pace to play in the most games he's had at any point in his career thus far.

To call him out right now and in this way with how "available" he's been this season with the Pelicans on pace to finish with the most wins in a season since the days of Anthony Davis on the roster is, in a way, peculiar.

Zion has become an easy target and this has become a lazy argument against him. Zion's battle with his weight has been long-chronicled throughout his career thus far. And it's probably been one of the bigger reasons why he hasn't lived up to his potential. At the same time, he hasn't been a complete bust. The Pelicans are playing better than they have in a long time.

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There may be a time to criticize Zion but now is not the time to do so. Not when he's helped the Pelicans take a visible step forward in the Western Conference.