Duke small forward Zion Williamson. Photo from Wikimedia.
If you are not familiar with Zion Williamson, here is the basic overview. He is a 6 foot 7, 284-pound forward for Duke, who has freakish athleticism and has captivated the basketball world with his highlight-reel filled season. If you are still not convinced, this is the type of athleticism we are talking about:
All of this has made him perhaps the most talked-about college basketball player of this generation. He is essentially a lock for the number one pick in June’s NBA Draft. Whatever team he lands on, he will bring a box office appeal that is sure to sell a lot of tickets. The hype around Williamson is so high that many fans and analysts have compared his basketball and star potential to that of Lebron James.
This season, his freshman season in Duke, Zion along with fellow top-5 prospects RJ Barrett and Cameron Reddish have led the Blue Devils to a 26-4 record as of March 7th. This has been enough to rank Duke as the fourth best team in the country, and one of the favorites to win the National Title.
However, despite the excitement that many have over Zion’s future NBA career, there are also questions about some aspects of his overall game that have led to concerns about how well he will fare in the NBA.
At 284-pounds, if Williamson was playing in the NBA right now he would be the 2nd heaviest player in the entire league. Although his weight is all-muscle, it does put extra stress on his legs that could put him at added risk of injuries in the future. His weight adds to his mystique because at his size, he should not be able to do the things he does on the court so effortlessly. But it also calls into question whether or not Zion can maintain his level of athleticism at his weight when it is putting so much pressure on his knees and ligaments.
An example of this came just two weeks ago during a bizarre play when Zion hurt his knee while trying to plant his foot only to have it literally break through his shoe. Perhaps a testament to his star power, Nike’s stock price dropped slightly the morning after the incident as it was one of Nike’s own signature shoes that Williamson was wearing at the time. However, while the injury was not that severe, it did highlight the one major concern most scouts have about him as an NBA prospect.
Other than that, the only weakness in his game is his inability to knock down jumpers from range consistently which is a huge part of today's NBA. However, if he develops a consistent jump shot once he enters the NBA and sheds a few pounds later on in his career for the sake of longevity, there is no reason why he cannot turn out to be the player many expect him to be.