Zion Williamson ‘A Better Athlete Than He’s Ever Been’ After Rigid Summer

Zion Williamson has missed 141 games through the first three years of his career and missed all of last season due to a fractured foot he suffered over the summer of 2021.

Heading into his fourth season, the 2021 All-Star spent eight weeks in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., executing a meticulously laid plan with strength and conditioning coach Jasper Bibbs to help Williamson prepare for a career-defining season and to become “a better athlete now than he’s ever been.”

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

While Bibbs didn’t reveal how much weight Williamson has lost or how much the former Duke Blue Devil currently weights, he has said that the results he and the Pelicans have seen are “phenomenal.” Bibbs used to work as a strength and conditioning coach with the Utah Jazz, where he developed a relationship with then-Jazz All-Star Donovan Mitchell.

Bibbs is now working with Williamson off that relationship with Mitchell. Bibbs and Williamson worked together while Williamson rehabbed his foot in Portland, and he became a more significant fixture after Williamson returned to New Orleans in March. When Williamson was fully cleared for basketball activities in May, the pair was able to focus on what matters the most for Williamson, hooping.

Bibbs and Williamson worked together to formulate that aforementioned eight-week plan that would help him “overcome the physical and mental hurdles that with being away from the game for so long.” During those eight weeks, Williamson did two-a-day workouts and had a specific nutrition plan during their time together in Fort Lauderdale.

“We focused on addressing body composition — his body weight, body fat, etc. — while maintaining and improving flexibility, strength, and power,” Bibbs said.

“We also focused on improving his overall fitness. The more weight he carries around, the more stress it puts on the body. We focused on aerobic and anaerobic basketball-specific conditioning. One of the main goals was to get Zion back to the same athletic ability he had before the injury. In the process, he’s improved athletically. I truly think he’s a better athlete now than he was before. Once you guys see him on the court, I think you’ll agree.”

Bibbs and Williamson also prioritized injury prevention during his daily routine; Bibbs said that Williamson specifically worked on his flexibility and range of motion. Bibbs also noted that fans would be excited to see Williamson pay with joy and the explosive athleticism that helped him arrive on the scene as a high schooler at Spartanburg Day School School in South Carolina.

“We’re very excited about all of it. I know I’ve said it a few times,” Bibbs said. “But I’m just really happy with his commitment to improving his fitness and body composition. He never wavered, and his capacity to work at a high level improved accordingly because of everything he was doing on a daily basis. He’s done a fantastic job, and I’m very happy for him.”