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 expectations and lived up to them all and more.
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 along with 8.9 rpg, 2.1 steals, and 1.8 blocks in his one season at Duke. He was honored as 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 as a sixer, Barkley could be seen stealing the ball out of the 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. Standing at an imposing 7’1, 325 pounds during his prime. His physical skills and mental experience were at their peaks it was something to behold. Pure domination and bullying of all opposition.
As a member of the Los Angelos 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 did often. 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 really 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 for those who don’t know is a player undersized as a big and thought to be not able to keep up with perimeter players on the defensive end. Basically a Power Forwards skillset in the body of a 3.
Kawhi Leonard is the best recent example of a tweener. The reason for Kawhi was he was 6’7 without a perimeter game. Advance and the lockdown defender developed a handle and jumpshot. He always had the body of a small forward just 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 as 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.
Getting back to the point
Zion Williamson is listed as a small forward. I’m not really sure if anyone knows if he is one. I find his size 6’6, 284lbs somewhat troublesome. Lebron was a physical phenom with a different body type.
James was at atleast 3 inches taller and 40-50 pounds lighter than Zion when he was drafted. There was also no doubt about him playing on the perimeter because he was just a point guard playing The 3 with the body of a Power Forward. Lebron could have been a point guard if he had wanted to be one. Throughout his career has brought the ball up the floor and locked point guards down defensively. Most notably MVP Derrick Rose during the 2011 East Finals.
Players like Shaquille O’Neal and Lebron James came into the league with NBA ready bodies. They didn’t have to mature into their frames like most young talent. Then when hitting their primes were massively bigger than other players. They still matured into their bodies. Its just they started out big, but not big like Zion’s 6’6, 284lbs. Ben Simmons is another good example of an NBA ready body. In 5 years he’ll be even bigger.
If Zion Williamson is 284lbs now how much will he weigh in 7 years, or will it even matter? Here is Shaq’s maturation from college to unstoppable NBA Superstar.
Is Williamson being overrated?
Is Zion Williamson overrated? When tasked with the question of should he have been drafted #1, yes of course he should have been. When you take the possible upside and excitement he brings to your city plus the overall hype that chants of elite superstar. You have to say he’s not overrated. He’s already a star 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. Can’t miss generational talent. If he wants to be great he will be. I’m not saying he won’t be, but Lebron, Shaq, Jabbar, Olajuwon, I don’t see it. He’s an exciting dunker at almost 300lbs and this is mesmerizing fans all over the world. I know he did other things in college, but so did alot of players.
What happens when he’s 28 years old and 323lbs. Is he gonna 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 rediculous.
Athletic like Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose put intense stress on his body the way he exploded up off the floor. When he recovered from his nasty knee injury in the 2012 playoffs he was never the same. He has since relearned the game. If this injury didn’t happen when it did, it would’ve happened some other time in some other fashion. Rose put alot of wear and tear 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 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 how exhausted he was. Next game still with his body fatigued, devastating injury.
The Warriors injuries especially Klay Thompson’s last postseason, I also believe was due to the grind of the league and all the games G.S had played since 2015 more than just extremely bad luck.