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Lang's World: MUSCLEWATCH 2018

by Lang Whitaker | Grizz Gaming GM

It’s a tradition unlike any other: MUSCLEWATCH!

For the uninitiated -- and at this point, who isn’t initiated? -- MUSCLEWATCH began almost two decades ago, when my friend Matt and I noticed each season that some player would report to NBA training camp having added “15 pounds of muscle.” For whatever reason, it was never 12 pounds, never 17 pounds, but always 15 pounds of muscle. Which always made us laugh.

Once Google became sentient, I was able to start compiling MUSCLEWATCH data from around the league. And over time, MUSCLEWATCH became about more than just the requisite 15 pounds of muscle, but about which players showed up for training camp having gained or lost weight.

What’s hilarious to me now is how deeply MUSCLEWATCH, a dumb word my friend Matt and I made up, has become embedded in the NBA lexicon. This season, for instance, I think I only sent out like two or three tweets about it, and yet a simple google search still turned up a bunch of mentions. This article from NBC Sports uses MUSCLEWATCH (with a hashtag!) in the lede.

So let’s stop looking backward and start counting pounds.


  • Los Angeles guard Lonzo Ball has added either 15 or 20 pounds of muscle, depending on who you ask. By which I mean, if you ask him he says he’s added either 15 or 20 pounds. I guess it depends on what time he weighs himself?

  • One player who was already dominant last season was Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, and this summer he dominated MUSCLEWATCH news.

  • Players are documenting MUSCLEWATCH as it happens via social media, and Giannis caused a stir on social media this summer when a workout photo went viral.

  • So exactly how much weight did he add? Well, fansided.com ran the numbers and thinks Giannis has added 20 pounds of muscle since last season. Impressive!

  • Bulls youngster Lauri Markanen has allegedly added 17 pounds since last season. No word on how much of that weight is muscle.

  • Also, and I apologize that there’s no muscular detail in this report, but Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina has added between 10-15 pounds this offseason. I’m betting it’s 15.

  • Hawks rookie Trae Young has added a dozen or so pounds.
  • So close to the magic 15 pounds of muscle!

  • Spurs guard Bryn Forbes has supposedly “packed on” 10 pounds of muscle over the offseason. I love it when people use the phrase “packed on” to describe weight gain, which makes it sound like someone is literally shoving the weight into their body.

  • Orlando forward Jonathan Isaac may have hit the magic number, having apparently added 15 pounds over the offseason.

  • Lots of MUSCLEWATCH developments in Sacramento, but most prominently, Skal Labissiere says he’s added 20 pounds since last year.


  • Jahlil Okafor has turned to vegetarian diet, and over the span of a few years has really slimmed down, according to NOLA.com. That body transformation was Okafor slimming down and getting into much better playing shape. Okafor was previously listed at 275 pounds but lost weight last season after going to a vegan diet.
  • Okafor lost the weight he wanted but also lost his strength. Once he got to New Orleans, he started with a diet that included meats but cut out things like candy and bread and while he's stayed in the 250-254 range weight-wise, he's gained strength back.

    "I feel even stronger now," Okafor said. "I feel phenomenal."

    So somehow he’s lost about 25 pounds over a few years but also gained muscle? Or just gained strength? I don’t know, I’m terrible at math.

    And re Okafor, our friend Tas Melas agrees that he passes the eye test...

  • From Toronto, someone pointed out that several Jazz players have apparently shed weight this summer.

  • Miles Bridges has apparently lost 18 pounds from the end of his college season to his rookie season in the NBA.

  • Finally, according to MUSCLEWATCH reporter Rick Carlisle, Mavericks guard JJ Barea has cut weight and for the first time in his career he’s down in the 170s.


  • Marvin Bagley certainly passes the MUSCLEWATCH eye test.

  • As does Timberwolves guard (and WWE enthusiast) Jeff Teague.


  • Dwight Howard reported to Wizards camp with 6.2 percent body fat.

  • This didn’t stop him from later suffering an injury to his butt.

    Seems like a good argument for me not getting down to 6.2 percent body fat.

  • OKC’s Patrick Patterson is apparently in the best shape of his career, although I couldn’t crack the paywall and read the actual article, which disqualifies Patterson from official MUSCLEWATCH contention, sadly.

  • The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Memphis Grizzlies. All opinions expressed by Lang Whitaker are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Memphis Grizzlies or its Basketball Operations staff, owners, parent companies, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Memphis Grizzlies and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.


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