clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

How Successful Will Zion Williamson Be In The NBA?

There are some legitimate questions here. There is also some real poor observation and reasoning.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Boston College v Duke
DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 05: Zion Williamson #1 and Cam Reddish #2 of the Duke Blue Devils battle Nik Popovic #21 of the Boston College Eagles for a rebound during the second half of their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 05, 2019 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 80-55.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Here’s a Yahoo piece asking how successful Zion Williamson will be in the NBA to which the proper answer is: as successful as he wants to be.

We are in an era that really plays to his strengths. He’s 6-7, give or take, and he’s shown he can guard smaller, theoretically quicker guards and overpower bigger players.

The main criticism of Williamson is his outside shot which is perfectly fair. It’s not ideal right now. Over the next few years he’ll need to put time in on that. He hasn’t had to so much yet because he can simply go inside and overpower, well, anyone. That’ll be harder next year but also consider this: it won’t matter very much if there are other guys who can hit some threes because they’ll open the inside up for him. Imagine for a minute that somehow the Golden State Warriors managed to trade Draymond Green for Williamson. Williamson would be devastating because you’d have to stick with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, not to mention Kevin Durant.

Who would you double team?

Whoever drafts him will presumably hire a shot coach to work on his mechanics and he’ll improve.

What we didn't get here was the criticism of his passing. Seriously?

First of all, he’s averaging 2.3 apg which might not seem like a lot but his point guard, Tre Jones, is averaging 5.5 and his roommate, RJ Barrett, is getting 3.7 per game. Cam Reddish is averaging 2.1.

That’s 11.3 apg from three starters which is a nice luxury.

And we’d have to assume that people who are criticizing his passing haven’t watched closely because the guy can absolutely pass. Moreover he does it with imagination and verve. His pass bounce pass to Barrett against Kentucky earlier in the season (after a take away block on a Kentucky player) is still being talked about.

We’ve seen him multiple times zip a pass through traffic. Passing is the last thing anyone should be worried about.

Consider a couple of things instead. First, he’s agile enough to guard any player in the college game - at 280.

Second, and you’ll have to use your imagination here, but try this.

Imagine Williamson going against two players (not at the same time). The first is Grant Hill. Hill could jump with him and was agile enough to move with him but could never outmuscle him. It’s a fascinating thing to consider.

And second, imagine him going against Shaquille O’Neal. He wouldn’t be able to torment O’Neal as Christian Laettner did by just stepping outside and exposing his inability to guard an outside shot (Stanley Roberts did this to him regularly when the two big men were at LSU).

O’Neal was a lot bigger of course. He was 7-1 and, until he went King Henry XIII, weighed about 295. Young Shaquille had a similar talent. He was highly agile and could get off the ground, though not quite as high.

What do you think Williamson would do with him?

Think about that for a bit. Imagine it in your mind’s eye. It’s really rather fascinating.

If you're going to shop Amazon please start here and help DBR
DBR Auctions|Blue Healer Auctions| Drop us a line