Draft night is now just two days away and on Thursday, shortly after 7:00, Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish will be the latest Blue Devils to join the NBA.
Williamson, barring some highly unexpected development, will be the first player taken and be the keystone of the Pelicans rebuild.
Here are some NBA analysts with thoughts about Williamson and it’s good to see people focusing on his other talents. You can see his prodigious physical gifts easily enough but as we’ve said before, he’s gold in the locker room and is going to help set a tone for his teams that will be particularly useful for bonding guys together.
It sounds like the recent Lakers who were traded to New Orleans are also excited. Having Lonzo Ball to lob passes to Williamson is really going to be fun and with Ball, Jrue Holiday and Williamson, the defense is going to be one that makes people sit forward in anticipation. Having a really fast offense will be good too.
Not everyone is buying in though. On Twitter, former coach Tom Penders questions whether Williamson thusly: “I’m with you on this! Zion got every whistle while running over defenders in college. He won’t be able to do that in the NBA unless he improves his perimeter skill set. I think he will work hard on that. But it might take awhile! He has the body and speed to hand out pain!”
This is clearly a guy who didn't watch much because what Williamson did that was so stunning was to go around guys. He did it in the lane, he did it on the break, he did it to get rebounds and he did it to get steals and he did it at 285. Most of the contact came when people tried to stop him. If you go back and watch - take the Louisville game we linked last night - at times he really relies on finesse. Penders, once again, shows why his career came to an end.
Rick Bozich goes further, asking what if Williamson is a bust?
Bozich points out some spectacular busts including Sam Bowie, Greg Oden and Anthony Bennett. It’s worth mentioning that Bowie and Oden were both severely limited by injuries and it’s not really fair to call them busts although Bowie was certainly a risk as he’d had problems at Kentucky. In hindsight taking Bowie and Hakeem Olajuwon before Michael Jordan in 1985 wasn’t smart, what’s so bad about Olajuwon? The guy won two titles and is still the quickest big man ever. Jordan won more but Olajuwon was a legitimate legend of the game. He was a reasonable first pick.
And even if Williamson doesn’t live up to expectations, his personality and character would still make him a valuable part of the team.
One final comment here: it’s amazing how many people just get the draft wrong - and not just this year.
Last year a lot of people thought that Luka Doncic was too slow. No one is talking about that anymore.
After this draft, some people may feel stupid about either Williamson, RJ Barrett or Cam Reddish or someone else in the draft. Maybe Bol Bol will either be off the charts or a bust.
Almost no one, including most of the so-called experts, really know. All we know is what we saw at Duke all year. And what we saw was a high-energy wrecking ball.
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