‘I Know I’ve Got To Do Better’ | Luka Doncic & Zion Williamson Can’t Handle The Whole Weight Of NBA Superstardom

(Photo: YouTube/Pelicans Debrief/ Getty Images)

Everyone is ripping injured New Orleans Pelican star Zion Williamson for his robust frame, but Slovenian star Luka Doncic, who some considered a candidate for “most skilled player in the game” about 30 pounds ago, was the subject of frequent references about his physique by the TNT broadcast crew during the Mavs’ disappointing 102-99 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night.

Analyst Reggie Miller, a slender Hall of Fame Shooting God who could fit 10 of his bodies into one of Zion’s sweat pants, criticized Doncic, saying he was “plodding up and down the court” and “has got to trim down.”

Both players have injuries to their lower extremities that have made conditioning difficult as they rehab back. With that in mind, fans and management don’t see it as an excuse to balloon and have it affect your play on the court. The analysts sure don’t hold back. 

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Staying In Shape Is Key To Success: More Mental Than Physical 

Both superstars have commitments to be available and work hard at staying at peak physical condition as the faces of two franchises that can’t be considered “large market” as far as competing for titles and attracting elite free agents is concerned. 

Williamson doesn’t seem to be getting the picture, and his weight has led to injuries as many projected. 

Doncic Playing At 30 Pounds Over Weight? 

Doncic isn’t quite as out of shape as Zion, who hasn’t played at all this season after undergoing surgery to repair a fracutured foot during the offseason.

The Mavs star did acknowledge that his conditioning has “got to be better.”

“People are going to talk about it, yes or no,” said Doncic, who managed 28 points, six rebounds and nine assists in the loss. “I know I’ve got to do better.”

Doncic reportedly arrived at training camp weighing more than 260 pounds for the second consecutive year. His playing weight is already 230 pounds.

In fairness, Doncic’s conditioning program has been thrown out of whack by a sprained left knee and ankle injuries that he’s still battling and caused him to miss three games at the beginning of the Mavs’ current 2-8 stretch. He missed Saturday’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies because his ankle was still irritated, and the Mavs also listed a sprained left thumb on Tuesday’s injury report.

The Mavs are 0-4 this season in games that Doncic has been ghost. 

“It’s still painful, but I try to play and try to practice,” Doncic said of the ankle. “But it’s still painful.”

Not The First Time

Back in June of 2020 Doncic’s trainer Jure Draskalar was quoted saying that his client “is not in the best shape.” Rumors got so crazy that Doncic had to release a Tweet of himself working out.

Doncic also blames some of his difficulties on an arduous international offseason schedule that gave him a bit of a hangover. Doncic joined the Slovenian national team’s training camp days after Dallas was eliminated from the playoffs, leading the program to an historic fourth-place finish in its first Olympics.

“I had a long summer,” said Doncic in a recent interview…I had the Olympics, took three weeks off, and I relaxed a little bit. Maybe too much. I’ve just got to get back on track.”

Zion Only Gets Half The Blame

Zion’s absence from the court has really taken the spirit out of a New Orleans franchise that was stung by Anthony Davis’ forced trade to the Lakers and overjoyed when the franchise drafted Williamson with the No. 1 pick in 2019.


He’s performed well when healthy but has played just 85 games in three seasons. The Pelicans are the worst team in the Western Conference at 7-19. It’s all bad. 

Doncic hasn’t played with the same efficiency as his previous two seasons, but he’s still averaging All-NBA stat lines (25.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and 8.5 assists for the 11-12 Mavs) despite shooting just 44.4 percent shooting from the field.

Doncic, 22 and Williamson, 21, are two ballers who were anointed as future faces of the NBA. They’re supposed to make Dallas and New Orleans NBA hot spots, like LeBron made Cleveland and Miami for a stretch.

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While Zion already cashed in a long time ago and Doncic’s international reach affords him an automatic fanbase consisting of an entire region of the globe, they are both finding out that the NBA is the elite basketball battleground for a reason. 

The truly iconic players come strong every night with a package that is of sound mind and body. You treat the offseason like the regular season or you might lose a step, and in the NBA an inch means everything. Ask Kevin Durant.

Everybody in the NBA has some degree of uber-level skills. Luka and Zion have to find that perfect balance of mind, body and soul. Their franchises’ lives depend on it.


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JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.