Tina Thompson

Western Notes: Zion, Blazers, Okpala, Thunder

Zion Williamson‘s strength and conditioning coach, Jasper Bibbs, tells William Guillory of The Athletic that the Pelicans forward is “in fantastic shape” with the 2022/23 season around the corner.

“He’s been committed to putting in the work day in and day out,” Bibbs said. “I’m really proud of what he’s been able to accomplish. He’s a better athlete now than he’s ever been.”

Williamson missed the entire ’21/22 season due to a broken foot, so ensuring that he’s healthy and fully recovered from that injury is a crucial first step. The former No. 1 overall pick has also been plagued by questions about his weight throughout his NBA career, and while Bibbs declined to say how much Zion weighs, he expressed optimism about the forward’s physical condition.

“… (His body composition) has improved at an extremely high level,” Bibbs told Guillory. “That’s all I’ll say.”

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • The Trail Blazers have officially announced a series of additions to their basketball operations staff, including Jonah Herscu as an assistant coach, David Adkins as director of player development, and former WNBA star Tina Thompson as a scout. Herscu previously worked for Sacramento, Adkins was with the Clippers, and Thompson was the head coach of Virginia’s women’s basketball team.
  • The two-year, minimum-salary contract KZ Okpala signed with the Kings is virtually identical to the one Chima Moneke received earlier this offseason, as our JD Shaw reports (Twitter links). Okpala has a $250K partial guarantee in 2022/23 that would increase to $500K if he makes the opening night roster. He’d receive a partial guarantee of $250K for 2023/24 if he plays at least 1,000 minutes this season and Sacramento wins 41 or more games. His full ’23/24 salary would become guaranteed if he’s under contract through June 30, 2023.
  • If the NBA and NBPA agree to remove the one-and-done rule for prospects, as has been rumored, there will be one super-sized draft class during the year in which players become draft-eligible out of high school. Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman explores what it might mean for the Thunder, who have loaded up on future picks, if that happens in 2024. Oklahoma City holds its own pick, the Clippers’ pick (unprotected), the Rockets’ pick (top-four protected), and the Jazz’s pick (top-10 protected) in the first round of the ’24 draft.