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Has The Zion Backlash Begun?

A couple of rare negative takes

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NCAA Basketball: Army at Duke
Nov 11, 2018; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson (1) is fouled by Army Black Knights forward Matt Wilson (14) as he shoots during the second half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils won 94-72.
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Two stories in one day about how Zion Williamson is overrated: the first is from Rashad Phillips, who used to play for Detroit Mercy and has played overseas. He also has a basketball podcast.

Phillips says this: “Zion Is not my number one prospect. Ja Morant from Murray State is my no. 1. He’s dynamic and fantastic. Let’s talk NFL terms: point guards are like superstar quarterbacks, the Trae Youngs the Ja Morants, those guys are like Patrick Mahomes. The bigs like Zion Williamson and DeAndre Ayton are like the defensive ends. Do you want the guy who can throw 50 touchdown passes or the guy who can get you 15 sacks??”

Phillips by the way was a 5-9 point guard.

Still, that’s a reasonable argument. But if he had had a voice in last year’s draft he’d have been fired by now.

Fox’s Rick Bucher goes farther: “This is Lonzo Ball 2.0. We’ve already made him a Hall of Famer! Is he taking the Pelicans to the playoffs?? We’re talking about him like he’s a generational player. He’s a phenomenally athletic talent, but people are way more excited about Zion Williamson, than they are about Luka Doncic. And Luka Doncic was far more prepared to play in the NBA than Zion; and not because of the athleticism, but because of the ability and the skills. Zion doesn’t show me the requisite tool box to say he can come in and do everything.”

Seems a bit harsh.

For one thing, if your memory goes back a year, a lot of people were mocking Doncic last season. Why? Because he supposedly wasn’t athletic enough. We have two words for that argument: Larry Bird. If you want to two more: Magic Johnson.

It was stupid then and it’s stupid now.

It’s also stupid to look at Williamson as just a freak athlete. He is, but he’s much more than that. He needs to work on his outside shot and like anyone will need to adapt to the league, but he has a superb basketball intelligence, he has huge desire, never rests on his ability and has the ability, just as a guy, to make his team better. We can’t remember the last time we saw someone who so obviously has a positive impact in the locker room. Magic maybe?

It’s all talk now of course. We’ll see soon enough who is ready and who’s not.

By the way here’s some food for thought for when the teams play: who would guard the other guy better, Williamson or Doncic? Give that some thought. It gets interesting.

Also, a lot of this debate is getting kind of old. Here’s what SBN’s Ricky O’ Donnell said when he saw Williamson against his legitimate peers for the first time in 2017. It’s amazing how little has changed and how much of this seems totally familiar now.

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