One of the amusing things about the NBA Draft is the way that people start gaming it and the draft candidates as soon as they’re known.
So it goes with Zion Williamson. The first doubter?
Greg Moore of the Arizona Republic, who thinks that Williamson is a bad fit for Phoenix. He says this:
“He was the unquestioned star of college basketball, and his play and potential drew comparisons to LeBronJames — which is exactly why newly minted Suns General Manager James Jones should pass...Josh Jackson, TJ Warren, Mikal Bridges and Kelly Oubre all occupy a similar space on the court...And while Williamson might be muscular like a post player, scouts say he’s closer to 6-foot-5 than the 6-7 he’s listed at. So, chances are he’d be right there next to Jackson, Warren, Bridges and Oubre on the wing. Phoenix needs help down on the block next to Deandre Ayton...Something else to consider with Williamson is the physicality of the NBA...He’s never been in a position where he wasn’t the most physically gifted player on the court. Next year, there will be someone who can match his size, speed and leaping ability every night.”
You could criticize several things about Williamson’s game. You could argue that his three point shot needs work. He’s not always a great foul shooter.
But you have to wonder if Moore watched him play.
All those guys are fair athletes. None of them are on the same level and anyone who is close isn’t nearly as powerful.
And we’d bet that none of them have his instincts for the game. Think back over this past season.
How many guys have you ever seen who could pull off that block against Kentucky? And the following pass?
How many guys his size could strip a point guard in the open court? How many could get beat by a guard and catch him for the block? And how many people, anywhere, anytime, could have pulled off that block against De’Andre Hunter? And finally, how many players could have pulled off that dazzling move against South Dakota State - the one where he stole the ball, went behind his back, nearly fell and still got the layup?
He’s not a normal player.
He’s on much firmer ground when he says that Phoenix needs a point guard and Ja Morant is going to be terrific. And you would have a hard time going wrong if you paired him with Devon Booker and with DeAndre Ayton inside you’ve got the makings of a great team down the road.
But it would be hard to go wrong with Williamson. Aside from all his physical gifts, he has a great locker room and tremendous character. That came through loud and clear at Duke this year.
Toss that in with his intelligence for the game and you’ve got something highly unusual. Pass at your own risk.