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Pippen To Zion: Shut It Down

Bad advice from the former Bull

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NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Duke
Jan 14, 2019; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Jack White (41) reacts to a dunk by forward Zion Williamson (1) during the first half against the Syracuse Orange at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Scottie Pippen is suggesting that Zion Williamson stop playing college basketball now to avoid injury which would damage his NBA stock.

This is interesting on a couple of levels at least.

First, it’s amazing that a guy like Pippen is weighing in on what a college player is doing. It really underscores the level of fascination with Williamson.

Second, it’s terrible advice. Williamson is building a brand that’s going to be insanely lucrative. The core of it is his size, athleticism and personality, but it’s also partly his intensity and desire for greatness and great players don’t quit.

He’s admirably expressed a desire to address the flaws in his game and wants to be a complete player and the best way to improve is to play top competition. The best avenue for him to improve at the moment is in college.

Third, unlike Pippen, who labored in obscurity in college, Williamson has one of the best teachers of all time in Mike Krzyzewski, who has been lauded by luminaries like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant, all of whom played for him, gratis, with the US Olympic team and Basketball USA.

People have talked about the “Krzyzewski Bump” that NBA players showed when they returned to the league after playing for Coach K but there’s a second bump as well and that’s in public appreciation, which translates into off-the-court income which brings us back to the Zion brand.

The surest way to dent that would be to walk away mid-season. We’ve seen various plays he’s made this season and thought, wow, how much money did he just make?

No one in basketball understands branding better than Mike Krzyzewski and no one will do more to get Williamson ready for the league than Mike Krzyzewski. Contrary to what Pippen thinks, he’s in the perfect spot.

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