The painful stretches of streaky baseball for the Yankees have reared its full head far too many times. Throughout the season, the team has looked anything but the championship caliber team most people expected them to be going into the season. Instead, they look old and a step slow, trailing the Blue Jays by two games for the last wild card spot with a 55-50 record. For a team that always has high expectations each year this is not even close to what they envisioned.
Now granted, they've dealt with plenty of injuries with the most devastating one, being a toe injury that Aaron Judge suffered while making an incredible catch to prevent an extra base hit in a win against the Dodgers. At that time, Judge was really starting to replicate last year's MVP season, and the Yankees themselves appeared to have been turning the corner at the time.
However, Judge's injury has exposed the many weaknesses within the Yankees' roster. Outside of Judge general manger Brian Cashman has constructed a roster with too many hit or miss players. Guys at the heart of their lineup like Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Stanton, and Anthony Rizzo are too inconsistent, and that's the last thing the Yankees need at this time. Since Judge's injury, they've been dead last in batting average and on-base percentage, while ranking 28th in runs scored.
Cashman also ignored third base and left field which were two positions that had to be addressed over the offseason. It was obvious from last year that Josh Donaldson and Aaron Hicks were major weak links that had to be replaced. Yet despite their age and poor play, they decided to keep both of them, and the results have gone expected. Hicks was released and Donaldson recorded 15 - yes, 15 - hits before suffering a hamstring injury that will likely end his season.
Their pitching hasn't been as shaky as the team's hitting. The Yankees rank ninth in ERA, which can be attributed to Gerrit Cole's success. He might be having his best season in pinstripes, leading the team in wins, ERA, and strikeouts. But there were higher expectations for others going into the year. Injuries and inconsistent play from the other starters - particularly Luis Severino, Carlos Rodón, and Nestor Cortes - have held back their starting rotation.
Despite this season going downhill, rebuilding shouldn't be the first option for the Yankees. Especially when you have a generational player in Judge and an ace in Cole. A rebuild would involve them cutting ties with everyone, including both players mentioned. The team must reload instead by surrounding both guys, Judge in particular, with other players who bring a lot more consistency.
For that to be done, it's imperative that Brian Cashman does whatever it takes to reel in big names. Yes they could get guys like all star third basemen Jeimer Candelario at a low price, but this team needs another star who can make a difference in the short and long term. Fortunately, there are a couple guys on the market who could make a significant impact.
They could look into acquiring Juan Soto of the San Diego Padres. At just 24 years old, he is one of the best hitters in the last six years, and has championship experience having won the 2019 World Series with the Washington Nationals. Although he's enjoying a strong season, there's uncertainty surrounding his future in San Diego. His contract ends in 2024, and if the Padres become desperate to get anything for him, the Yankees could swoop in without having to give up a king's ransom.
But if they want to go even bigger, they could sign the amazing Shohei Ohtani who's having another incredible season, if that's even the right word to describe it. Every time he's out there, Ohtani is making a significant impact whether it's his 148 strikeouts, or his league leading 36 home runs. He's in the final year of his contract, and there's the possibility the Los Angeles Angels could deal him if they aren't confident with negotiations. While it does appear the Yankees will have to wait for free agency to get Ohtani rather than the trade deadline, they must do whatever it takes to land him.
We are just over a month into the 2023 baseball season, but the rule changes implemented over the offseason already have a significant impact on the game. From new pitch clocks to bigger bases, baseball put a big focus on making the game faster and more entertaining, which has paid off so far. As someone who watches baseball most of the season, I can't help but wonder if these changes will change baseball's momentum for good.
Before this season, baseball was starting to lose viewership, which was a result of the long duration of most games. With plenty of stoppages during contests, the average length of a game last year was just over three hours. Even the biggest and most loyal baseball fans were starting to voice their concern about the increasing times of each game. There were even some games where I was relieved for it to be over regardless of who won.
As a result of the growing complaints, the MLB spent the offseason prioritizing ways to make games shorter. With an abundance of new rules, games are already looking drastically different than before. For one, the time it takes before and during at-bats is a lot shorter than in years past. Pitchers now have 30 seconds to throw a pitch in between batters, along with a 15 second clock during pitches with no one on base, and a 20 second clock with runners on. Hitters will also be held accountable during their at-bats. They must be in the batter's box by the time there's eight seconds left, or else they'll be charged with a strike.
In addition, the MLB also set out to make rules more favorable for offenses with the banning of the shift and bigger bases. Defenses are now required to place two players on each side of the infield, while the size of bases have jumped from 15 inches square to 18. Both rules are major attempts to generate excitement in hopes of giving some of the game's most talented players more opportunities to flourish. All-stars such as Shohei Ohtani, who's hit 80 home runs in the last two years, and Trea Turner, who's stolen more bases than anyone else since 2016, will now be even more dangerous thanks to these changes.
It's still early in the season, but the effects from the new rules can't be ignored. The average length for an MLB game is almost 30 minutes shorter than last season at two and a half hours, while hitting has also seen a significant jump compared to years past. This has ultimately caused a rapid increase in ratings during the young season. Opening day saw the minutes in viewership go up by 42 percent, and the league has maintained that success so far.
Players are still getting used to the rule changes, which is evident given the strikes and balls called due to clock violations whether it's the batter or the pitcher. Some at-bats have literally been determined by the pitch clock, as seen in a Red Sox Braves spring training game where the umpire determined the batter wasn't ready to hit on a 3-2 count with two outs, and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth in a tie game.
I can personally say that although the Yankees have currently been disappointing, this is indeed a nice welcome change. You can now tolerate watching the sport without having to worry about it taking over your entire evening. This is a busy time of year for sports, with the NBA and NHL playoffs going on, but the number of fans tuning in is an encouraging sign. If baseball is seeing plenty of favorable results at this time of year, imagine how many will be watching during the summer and into the fall.
At one point during the last MLB season, it seemed like a Yankees-Mets Subway Series in October wasn't out of the question. Both teams were loaded with talent, from their pitching staffs to the lineups, and looked destined to make a deep playoff run. Even their matchups lived up to expectations, giving fans a potential preview.
But by the end of the season, any World Series talk was forgotten as the Yankees lost their lead in the American League, while the Mets dropped to second in their division. Both teams would eventually go out in embarrassing fashion during the playoffs. With a new baseball season starting in a week, what must happen for both teams to avoid another disappointing ending?
The Yankees had a much busier offseason compared to last year. They addressed their biggest need in re-signing A.L. MVP Aaron Judge for nine more years of deep home runs and leaping catches at the wall. Given that he's been the team's best player since Derek Jeter, losing Judge would have been a massive mistake. They also added another all star to their pitching staff in Carlos Rodón. These were certainly smart moves, but they won't be the deciding factors in getting the Yankees over the hump.
Instead, the key will be whether their collection of young prospects can make a significant difference. The Yankees already saw Oswaldo Cabrera receive plenty of playing time toward the end of the season and into the playoffs. He can play anywhere in the field and will have an even bigger impact if his hitting improves. They also have two other prospects in shortstops Oswaldo Peraza and Anthony Volpe who are on the horizon toward seeing lots of action. The Yankees are clearly confident in both players since they passed on a loaded group of shortstops in free agency. Every good team has a few homegrown superstars, and if the Yankees can rely on their young talent for a much needed boost, it could be the difference between an ALCS and a World Series.
The Mets, on the other hand, have had a roller coaster offseason ever since it started. They lost two time Cy Young winner Jacob DeGrom, but replaced him with another Cy Young winner in Justin Verlander. They also re-signed Brandon Nimmo and added pitcher Kodai Senga from Japan. However, they saw their contract with shortstop Carlos Correa fall apart over concerns with his physical, and then watch reliever Edwin Diaz tear his ACL while celebrating Puerto Rico's win in the World Baseball Classic.
Even with all the highs and lows, the Mets still have an extremely talented team. Besides the need to temporarily replace Diaz, they do not have many glaring weaknesses. Whether the Mets can take the next step will be determined by their ability to play against inferior competition. While some might point to the Atlanta Braves sweeping them at the end of the year, that could have been avoided if the Mets didn't go 12-9 against teams below .500 during September. That's not going to cut it in one of the most competitive divisions. Like last year, the Mets will have plenty of matchups with teams ready to throw in the towel by fall. If the Mets want to make noise down the stretch, it starts by winning the games where they're favored.
This season marked the 13th year without a 28th championship for the New York Yankees. Despite an ALCS appearance, their success is measured by whether the Yankees win the World Series, and losing to the Houston Astros for the third time in six years certainly leaves a bitter taste. With a roster that has many holes, and a series of important decisions to make - most notably re-signing Aaron Judge - it's time the Yankees build a roster with reliable long term players.
Championship teams in baseball are constructed of guys who are already, or will be foundational pieces for years to come. The Yankees once appeared to have a true core of homegrown players, and big names such as Giancarlo Stanton and Gerrit Cole were supposed to be the final piece. Even though those "final pieces" have played exceptionally well, the Yankees as a team have shifted their roster more than expected. This year's team had too many stopgap players and while it may have resulted in regular season success, it's certainly not a way to win in the postseason.
One way the Yankees have always looked to make major upgrades has come through free agency. Although Yankees are known to spend millions each year, they recently have not been as active on the market compared to previous years. If there's a good time to live up to their reputation, this offseason is the perfect time.
For this year's free agency, the Yankees have to be active and while re-signing Anthony Rizzo is a good start, bringing back Aaron Judge is their biggest priority. Fresh off an A.L. record 62 home runs along with his first MVP award, it's imperative the Yankees bring him back considering how he was their only consistent performer. Another player they should resign is left fielder Andrew Benintendi who gives them an additional lefty that's a contact hitter as well as a solid fielder.
As for acquiring players, the Yankees will have a bevy of talented shortstops who are all the primes of their career. Although there are plenty of big names, Trea Turner and Dansby Swanson should really be the top of their list. Besides the fact that both of them have gotten significantly better over the years and won a World Series, they're both in their late 20s. Signing one of them would stabilize one of the most important infield positions for years to come.
While the idea of constructing a winning roster through free agency is always appealing, the most recent teams to win the World Series have had a healthy portion of homegrown talent. But other than Aaron Judge, the Yankees' roster doesn't feature many players from their farm system. However, they have a few intriguing players worth fully investing in.
One player that deserves more playing time is Oswaldo Cabrera. He was called up in mid-August and would slowly play his way into becoming a consistent starter through his stellar play in the field. His hitting is still a work in progress but that should change once he gets more experience. Although he's capable of playing plenty of positions, Cabrera should be the third baseman given that Josh Donaldson turned out to be a major disappointment.
In addition, the Yankees have two infielders who could make an impact in Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza. Although they both play shortstop, the Yankees should give one of these guys a legitimate shot whether it's Volpe, Peraza, or both of them. They could do this by passing up on some of the shortstops on the market. But the best case scenario is to trade Gleyber Torres to make room at second for either Volpe or Peraza once the Yankees do sign a shortstop.
What allowed the Yankees to have their last dynasty is that they had a sustainable nucleus of players that led the way each year. With the perfect mix of draft picks and free agent signings, the Yankees roster was able to stay intact. If the Yankees want to replicate that success, they must make moves that will give them a foundation along with some direction.
With the Yankees' season ending in the hands of the Houston Astros yet again, all eyes will focus on Aaron Judge's looming decision in free agency. After rejecting a $213 million offer before the season, Judge significantly raised his value by hitting an A.L. record 62 home runs, while knocking in 131 runs. As for the Yankees, they looked like World Series favorites going into the all-star break, but after another postseason disappointment, re-signing Judge may not be so certain. Regardless of where he signs, and for how much, Judge is already a winner of free agency.
There is still a strong possibility of him returning to the Yankees. Although he's only been on the team for six years, Judge has easily been the best player to wear pinstripes after Derek Jeter. He is a homegrown player who has represented the organization as well as anybody could for the last six years. Since Judge's rookie year, the Yankees have never missed the playoffs. Re-signing Judge would make him a Yankee for life which is a very good honor for any ballplayer. With Judge on the roster, the Yankees will certainly be playoff contenders every year. Whether he wins a World Series or not, 99 will certainly be retired someday by the organization.
However, it's worth wondering if Judge would really want to continue playing for an organization that has constantly came up short time and time again. From the team's second half slump to their playoff collapse, Judge has every right to question whether it's worth staying with a franchise that seems to be more known for their disappointment rather than their success as of late.
In this postseason, Judge might've slumped at the worst time, but he wasn't the one who couldn't convert a potential double play in an elimination game. He didn't choose to take Gerrit Cole out of the game when he was still at 95 pitches. He also wasn't the one who assembled a roster that consisted of guys who are viewed as "stopgap" players. As for the fans, Judge has every right to question whether he wants to play for a fanbase that shockingly booed him during the playoffs.
Going elsewhere would be a fresh start, and maybe even a homecoming for Judge if he signs with the hometown San Fransisco Giants who are rumored to have interest. Whereas the Yankees always seem to be stubborn in their approach towards winning, Judge may have a better chance of winning if he signs with a team that's willing to adapt year in and year out.
I think another year without a championship definitely complicates Judge's status as a Yankee. If there's anything their front office is good at, it's resigning players in free agency. However, the Yankees have thrown Judge under the bus at times, and that could haunt them this offseason. Fans should at least prepare for possibility of seeing number 99 in new threads.
It is not even three full years into this decade, but if there's any recurring trend, it's that plenty of teams were finally able to overcome years of mediocrity and make the playoffs. Whether it has been adjusting to COVID, a major acquisition, or a well timed winning streak, teams such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns, and Phoenix Suns finally managed to break long standing playoff droughts. The Seattle Mariners and Philadelphia Phillies also recently added their names to the list.
Here's why this pattern continues:
Surprisingly, the first cause has been the effects of the COVID pandemic. Although all teams were challenged with adapting to empty venues, COVID actually might've helped teams who were previously struggling.
Some teams who benefited from these unusual circumstances include the Cleveland Browns, who allowed more fans and only played three games in empty stadiums, unlike many of their opponents whose stadiums were empty all season. In another example, the Miami Marlins and San Diego Padres. were particularly fortunate to play in a shortened season. While some might see these seasons as fluky, it is fair to say that they benefitted from these unusual circumstances as both teams underachieved the following year.
Regardless of COVID, there were other teams who were already well-positioned to break their playoff droughts and were just one player away.
In 2019, the Buccaneers boosted a talented roster that was competitive, but missed the playoffs for the 12th straight year. However, their progress was enough to lure Tom Brady in free agency. The rest was history, as Brady won an seventh Super Bowl in a convincing 31-9 triumph. The following season saw them lose in Divisional Round but there's no question Brady has changed the culture in Tampa Bay.
The Phoenix Suns, with a young roster led by Devin Booker, went 8-0 in the NBA bubble but narrowly missed out on the play-in tournament. Despite this, they established a foundation and would soon trade for Chris Paul whose greatest ability is elevating his teammates. Since then, the Suns not only broke their 10 year drought, but have won more games than any other team, and made the 2021 Finals.
If there's one thing great teams have in common, it is the ability to embark on a winning stretch at the right time. This is also how some teams were finally able to get over the hump to make the playoffs. Just as they would slowly start to fall out of the playoff picture, they heated up at the perfect time.
The 2021 New York Knicks are a perfect fit for this category. While they had already showed significant improvement, it looked like their luck was starting to run out with just over a month left. What followed was a nine game winning streak, culminating into 16 wins in their last 20 games: good enough to clinch the fourth seed. Their first playoff series in eight years against the Hawks lasted only five games, but witnessing their game 2 win in person was an incredible experience for me.
Unlike the Knicks, this year's Seattle Mariners were looking to take the next step after falling short of the playoffs the previous season. They started slow but found their stride in July: the exact time baseball games become significant. Seattle won an amazing 14 consecutive games, which boosted them into the wild card picture, a position they would not relinquish. Last Friday, they finally put an end to their 21 year drought; the longest out of any American sports team at the time.
There are many American athletes who have made a groundbreaking achievement in sports, and Kelsie Whitmore’s name should be added to the list. As a left fielder and pitcher of the Staten Island Ferryhawks in the Independent Atlantic League, she is the only woman on the roster and the first female to play in a league partnered with Major League Baseball since 1994. Although the Independent Atlantic League doesn’t get the same attention compared to other minor leagues, Whitmore has made it clear that she is here to play ball.
It wasn’t long in the season before Whitmore would get her chances with the Ferryhawks, as she made her first appearance as a pinch-runner in the Ferryhawks’ opening game. Nine days later, she made her first start as a pitcher. However, this is nothing new for Whitmore. Before going professional, she was the only woman on her high school baseball team all the out west in sunny Temecula, California.
Last Friday my program in the New York Times Sports Writing course got the chance to speak to her before the Ferryhawks' matchup against the Charleston Dirty Birds, so I was able to get a first hand perspective on her journey toward becoming the only woman in a leagued with the MLB.
When I asked her about what’s different compared to high school, she replied, “I’d say the competition is a lot higher. There’s guys who are former major leaguers. Some played in minor affiliate ball so being against and with guys at that level is definitely what makes a difference out of it.”
Even with the increased level of competition, Whitmore is not one to shy away from intimidation.
As for her on-field performance, Whitmore’s hitting has remained a work in progress, given she has yet to get a hit in 22 plate appearances. She has made some strides in her pitching however as she managed to retire a former MLB player in a relief appearance.
As a team the Ferryhawks have only won 22 games so it’s easy for fans to suggest that Whitmore was signed in an effort to gain popularity, but general manager Gary Perone denied these claims. He stated that Whitmore was signed because of her skills on the diamond rather than trying to sell more tickets. While this might be true, Whitmore has been an inspiration to others. Perone noted that he sees a ton of young girls who look up to her when they come to the ballpark. In a city that fields plenty of stars playing for the Yankees and Mets, it’s a pretty impressive accomplishment for Whitmore to be recognized as a role model by many young fans.
Over the last few months, Whitmore’s support has only continued to grow. Although she noted the atmosphere is different compared to California, she described the fans as “very supportive and great to be around.” For someone like Whitmore to receive more attention compared to other players in the Independent Atlantic League, she conducts herself in a very professional manner which isn’t always seen from all athletes.
In a response to a question regarding how her journey might be different compared to others, she thinks that “Part of it is really just not giving up. A lot of people think it’s hard, and they go in an easier route…I’ve been through those moments and you need to fight your mind, and I feel it’s not stopping.”
She additionally credited certain people, such as her father for building a foundation where she can make the necessary steps toward achieving her dreams. Perone said she will have a career in some way and after speaking to her, it's more than likely Whitmore will have tremendous success.
After an underwhelming 2021 season, it was believed that the Yankees' window to contend for a championship was starting to close. These opinions only became stronger as the Yankees had a quiet offseason where they made a lot of under the radar moves rather than going on their typical spending spree in free agency. Since the season started however, the Yankees have been dominating every opponent in their way. They are currently riding a 47-16 record which is not only best in the American League, but in all of baseball. Here are all the reasons for their spectacular start.
1. A More Balanced Lineup
The heart of the Yankees' lineup, without question, centers around Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. When healthy, they are one of baseball's more feared hitting duos, which is something pitchers dealt with last year. As of now, they have picked up right where they left off. Stanton has hit 13 home runs while Judge has taken his game to another level, clobbering an absurd 25 home runs. They are both on pace to hit over 30 home runs, although Judge might hit 66 at this rate. Let's not forget that he also leads the team in almost every other hitting category.
The big difference for Judge and Stanton this year, is that they have much more help at the plate. Anthony Rizzo has had a lower batting average than in years past, but he's well on pace to eclipse his home run and RBI total from last year. Meanwhile, Gleyber Torres only needed 58 games to match his home run total from the last two years combined. Additionally, the Yankees have a well rounded group of contact hitters led by DJ Lemahieu, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Jose Trevino. Out of all their hitters, Trevino has been the biggest surprise, hitting .300 while delivering two walk-offs this season.
2. Better Pitching and a Fundamentally Sound Defense
Last year, the Yankees' pitching staff had some stretches where they looked unhittable while other times, they needed 25 pitches just to get out of an inning. This year, they've been far more consistent. All of their starting pitchers have a winning record with the highest ERA being Gerrit Cole's 3.33. Despite this, Cole overcame a shaky start to the season and has looked like the $324 million ace the Yankees payed him to be, leading the team in strikeouts to go along with a 6-1 record. Nestor Cortes has been baseball's biggest breakout star as of now. His 5-2 record, 1.96 era, and 71 strikeouts make him all but a lock to start for the A.L. in the all star game. The rest of the rotation consists of a fully healthy Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, and Jameson Taillon who have all contributed toward the Yankees having the lowest era in the majors at 2.81.
Defensively, the Yankees have been much more respectable in the field compared to last season. This is because Aaron Boone has been playing guys where they are comfortable at, whether it's Gleyber Torres returning to second base or Giancarlo Stanton playing in the outfield more often. For Stanton to excel in the field, Aaron Judge has made the transition to center field where he's shown that he can cover ground as well as any other center fielder. Behind the plate, Kyle Higashioka and Jose Trevino have proved to be defensive upgrades, as Yankee pitchers no longer have to worry about their pitches going to the backstop. These adjustments are a big reason why the Yankees are in the top three for runs saved defensively. Without the improvement of their defense the Yankees would not have baseball's best record by such a wide margin.
3. Long Term Outlook
There's no reason to think that the Yankees can't continue their dominant stretch. Aaron Boone has been pressing all the right buttons and this team not only jells together, but they look like they're having fun which wasn't usually the case last year. Aaron Judge is well on pace to finally win his first career A.L. MVP, they're going to have a bunch of starters for the all-star game, and at this rate they can clinch home field for the entire postseason. As for their current record, (47-16) the only time they've had a better start was in 1998 where they won 114 games en route to a World Series championship. And while there's still a lot of baseball to be played, fans have every right to be extremely optimistic about this team.
After more than two months of work stoppage, a brief strike, major offseason moves, and new rule changes, today marks Opening Day for baseball in 2022. Among the notable changes this offseason was the implementation of a new playoff format. For the first time in a full season, there will be six playoff teams in each conference with the two best teams having first round byes while the other four teams will compete in a best of three wild card series. With these additions likely to have a significant impact on this season, here are my predictions.
#3 Toronto Blue Jays over #6. Boston Red Sox
#4 New York Yankees over #5 Tampa Bay Rays
3. Toronto Blue Jays over 2. Houston Astros
1. Chicago White Sox over 4. New York Yankees
3. Toronto Blue Jays over 1. Chicago White Sox
#3 Atlanta Braves over #6 San Fransisco Giants
#4 New York Mets over #4 St. Louis Cardinals
#1 Los Angeles Dodgers over #4 New York Mets
#2 Milwaukee Brewers over #3 Atlanta Braves
#1 Los Angeles Dodgers over #2 Milwaukee Brewers
#1 Los Angeles Dodgers over #3 Toronto Blue Jays
The beginning of a new year marks an opportunity for everyone to set new goals for themselves. That's why I'm going to propose some theoretical new year's resolutions to notable sports figures who could use them in 2022.
1. Rob Manfred - Get Your Act Together
Even before this year, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was competing with Roger Goodell with the title of "most hated commissioner in all of sports". He has been heavily disliked by both players and fans for actions such as his response to the Houston Astros' cheating scandal. However Manfred reached a new low this year, which was partly due to the two different types of baseballs that were used. One of the baseballs was more pitcher friendly, while another helped hitters be more productive at the plate. Keep in mind that this is ironic considering Manfred's crackdown on foreign substances back in June. As of now, the MLB is on locking out the players while they try to negotiate a new league agreement. While Manfred obviously isn't a player or owner, he deserves a ton of blame for the league's failure with the negotiations.
2. Ben Simmons - Change Your Mindset
Since he passed up a dunk late in the fourth quarter of last year's playoffs, Ben Simmons has yet to step on the court this season. He didn't engage with team until October and when he did, Simmons got kicked out of practice for showing a lack of engagement and was later suspended for the season opener. Simmons has also refused counseling from the 76ers to help him get back on the court. To top it off, Simmons has requested a trade but isn't doing any favors to help his cause. While he can create for scoring opportunities for others and defend the opponent's best player, Simmons lacks a solid jump shot and has a massive contract. If Simmons wants a fresh start, he needs to change his entire approach because as of now, he's a bonafide diva.
3. Zion Williamson - Get In Shape
Zion Williamson has seemed to enjoy the food in New Orleans a little too much. Williamson was drafted no. 1 by the New Orleans Pelicans and seen by some as the NBA's next prodigy. When Williamson is healthy, he's a force to be reckoned with. His ability to attack the basket, haul in rebounds, and protect the rim, is super impressive at 6'5, 280 plus lbs. It's his availability that has been an issue for Williamson. He didn't take the court in his rookie year until January and has yet to suit up this season. To his defense, the Pelicans haven't done anything please Williamson in his three years with the team. They've had a three different coaches in every season which is a recipe to make your franchise player unhappy. However, Williamson must take better care of his weight. If Charles Barkley is concerned, that tells you something.
PreviewPreview2:51Shaq & Chuck Roasting Zion Williamson on Inside the NBA YouTube · House of HighlightsNov 2, 2021