Is a Zion Williamson knee injury inevitable? I think it is. The human body can’t jump like Zion does at his weight and maintain. The stress he is putting on his knees won’t continue. It’s a question of when, really
The Big Debut
Zion Williamson gets set to make his long awaited, heavily anticipated debut this Wednesday night before a national audience on ESPN. Williamson came to Durham last fall with the highest of expectations and lived up to them and then some.
Williamson in his one collegiate season was as dominate as any freshman has ever been. The most dominate since Anthony Davis. Williamson averaged 22.6 ppg-8.9 rpg-2.1 steals-1.8 blocks in his one season at Duke. He was named a 1st team All-American, before entering The NBA Draft in June.
Zion: The Potential
Zion Williamson is 6’6, 284lbs. His athleticism at this size is quite unreal. The #1 pick in last June’s draft, isn’t the first heavy guy with elite athleticism.
Charles Barkley was a a 6’4 power-forward, nicknamed The round-mound-of-rebound for a reason. In his years with the Sixers, Barkley could be seen stealing the ball out of passing lanes, running the court like a gazelle, and exploding to the rim.
<span style=”color: #9b51e0;” class=”ugb-highlight”>Shaquille O’Neal</span>
<span style=”color: #fcb900;” class=”ugb-highlight”>Power and quick hops</span>
Shaquille O’Neal is the best example of a massive baller with athleticism, not seen in a man that size. He stood at an imposing 7’1, 325 pounds in his prime. When his physical skills and mental experience were at peak performance, it was something to behold. Pure domination and bullying of all opposition.
As a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, Shaq won 3 straight NBA Championships and Finals MVP awards. The 2000 NBA MVP was as close to unstoppable as I’ve ever seen. In the time of a superior Western Conference, Shaq dominated the likes of Duncan, Garnett, and Webber. This was also a time that was more physical than today. It was normally Shaq dishing out the punishment to his defenders
If a player could match Shaq’s size, they were victims to his quickness, power, and athleticism. If the defender was athletic then Shaq used his size and brute strength. Players were intimidated to face him. I often compare it to the opponents of Mike Tyson before he lost to Buster Douglas.
O’Neal could hit a one handed 12 footer, and he often did. His main weapon was to dunk it after receiving the ball on the block and if he got it deep in the paint, there was nothing anyone could do to stop it.
Shaq unlike Zion wasn’t a big leaper. Zion uses power with hops, Shaq as a heavy man had a quick jump off the ground combined with his raw power. This quick jump is what made Shaq really unique. He was dunking it by the time his defender could react. He was a compact cannonball, that once his momentum to the basket started, it was nearly impossible to stop his trajection.
What if Zion didn’t defy gravity?
If Zion Williamson wasn’t an athletic freak, he’d be a text book tweener. A tweener is undersized for a big, and thought to be not able to keep up defensively on the perimeter. Basically a Power-Forwards skillset in the body of a small-forward.
Kawhi Leonard is the best, recent example of a tweener,Ican think of. He was a tweener because he stood 6’7 without a perimeter game. A few years in the NBA, and the lockdown defender developed a handle with a jumpshot. He always had the body of a small forward but not the game to match it.
Is Zion a 3?
I don’t see Williamson able to defend the elite small-forwards off the dribble on a regular basis. I’m not going to get into Zion’s defense. Some people will say “did you see that steal or this block”.
Allen Iverson led the NBA in steals 3 times. A.I did this because he played the passing lanes. So does Zion. Iverson was not a good defender. This was one of the main reasons Eric Snow and Aaron Mckie were so important to the 76ers. If Iverson wasn’t in the NBA, he’d have been a free safety in the NFL. For those who don’t know alot about Bubba, I’m not being facetious it was actually plan A for Allen.
Getting back to the point
Zion Williamson currently is listed as a small-forward. I’m not sure if anyone knows if he will actually be able to be one in the NBA or not. I find his size of 6’6, 284lbs somewhat troublesome. Jumping with that kind of weight behind him will lead to a horrific Zion Williamson injury.
LeBron was a physical phenom but with a much different body type. James was at atleast 3-inches taller and 40-50 pounds lighter than Zion at the same age. There was also no doubt about him playing on the perimeter because he was a point guard playing the 3, with the body of a Power Forward.
LeBron could have been a point guard. Throughout his career, he has brought the ball up the floor and locked point guards down defensively. Most notably MVP Derrick Rose during the 2011 East Finals.
If Zion Williamson is 284lbs now, how much will he weigh in 7 years? Will it even matter? How will is knees be able to endure the stress under that weight? Is a Zion Williamson injury inevitable?
Here is Shaq’s maturation from college to unstoppable NBA Superstar.
Is Williamson being overrated?
Is Zion Williamson overrated? When tasked with the question, should he have been drafted #1, yes of course he should have been. The upside and excitement he brings to a city and the overall hype screams of an elite superstar in the making.
You have to say he’s not overrated. He’s already a star, considered a franchise player around the league even if its only in terms of perception.
Many in the media talk of Zion as being in the same class as Lebron and Anthony Davis. A can’t miss generational talent. If he wants to be great he will be.
I don’t see it. He’s an exciting dunker at almost 300lbs and this is mesmerizing fans all over the world. This same aspect that makes people think he’s a franchise player, it’s the same thing that will cause his downfall. The Zion Williamson knee injury will come. That’s why I can’t buy in on him. Alot of amazing things exist in our world, They lose there appeal however, when they’re broken.
What happens when he’s 28 years old and 323lbs. Is he going to be dunking over people? I honestly don’t think we will ever find out. He will either be grounded or gone. If he develops a serious post game maybe he’ll be an all-star, but to just assume he’ll be like LeBron or Anthony Davis is ridiculous.
Athletic like Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose put intense stress on his body, the way he exploded up from the floor. When he recovered from his nasty knee injury that occured in the 2012 playoffs, he was never the same. He has since re-learned the game. If this injury didn’t happen when it did, it would’ve happened some other time in some other fashion, during another game.
Rose put alot of stress on his knees, due to his style of exploding fast and recklessly. Mix in some fatigue on the knee and it was a situation waiting to happen. The Zion Williamson injury will happen in similar fashion.
The game before Demarcus Cousins tore his achilles, he had one of the best games of his career. In the post game interview, Cousins kept saying he was exhausted in the post-game interview. Next game still with his body fatigued, a devastating injury.
The Warriors injuries during the 2019 playoffs, especially Klay Thompson’s, I believe was due to the grind of the league and all the games G.S had played since 2015. It wasn’t just bad luck.