2019 NBA Draft Profile: Zion Williamson

06/04/2019 at 11:06pm

Zion Williamson is one of the most unique athletes to come through the college ranks in recent history and had the freshman season to match, emerging as one of the nation’s most efficient scorers and electric two-way players. Amassing a huge following early in his prep career with his peerless explosiveness, Williamson earned a spot in the McDonald’s All-American game and was named South Carolina’s Mr. Basketball as a senior. Considered a consensus top-5 recruit in the high school class of 2018 coming out of Spartanburg Day School, Williamson nonetheless managed to outperform expectations under Mike Krzyzewski teaming with RJ Barrett to guide Duke to a 32-win season. Stuffing the stat sheet averaging 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 2.1 steals, and 1.8 blocks per game, the Salisbury, North Carolina native steadily impacted games in a variety of ways to capture Consensus National College Player of the Year honors.

  • Possesses unprecedented explosiveness, an excellent first step, and rare closing speed for a player of any size, let alone one listed at 6’7 and 285 pounds. May lack a degree of height in a conventional sense, but plays with his head at rim level as often as any player in recent memory, has a remarkably quick second jump, and is every bit as strong as his dimensions would suggest.

  • Proved to be far more than just an athlete in his sole collegiate season flashing impressive instincts on both ends of the floor, a knack for creating offense, good vision as a passer, and great versatility carving out a role as Duke’s most important player sliding between the power forward and center positions. Ended the season ranked among the most efficient volume scorers in modern college basketball history despite possessing significant room to grow as a three-point and free throw shooter and missing several games late in the year with a leg injury.

Shot Charts

PlayType Analysis

  • Put together one of the more exceptional offensive seasons of any player in college basketball last season scoring in almost every manner possible with elite efficiency.

  • Had many of his most impressive moments getting out in the open floor—and not just with his gravity defying dunks. 16.8% of his possessions came in Transition where he scored 1.357 points per Transition possession [92nd percentile] frequently running the wings for lob chances, but also keeping his head up pushing the ball himself and finishing creatively over and around defenders just as often. Unique combination of speed and power shine in space.

  • Was extremely effective in the half court as well. 88% of his made shots within Duke’s set offense came in the paint, but were created in a variety of ways with less than half of those attempts coming off assists. Physical profile plays a key role in his ability to create offense, but handle is impressive as well.

  • Made the most of his athleticism in catch and finish situations - not only going up to finish lobs above the square needing only a split second to elevate, but also showed good energy and instincts making hustle plays on the glass, the ability to create off the dribble from the mid-post, and great acceleration attacking the rim from the perimeter. Scored a remarkable 1.502 points per shot around the rim in the half court [97th percentile] as his ability to drive the ball with force and footwork, seek out contact, and hang in the air to finish with touch regularly stood out even if he has room to use his right hand more often.

  • Managed to find success scoring in-close even with opposing defenses packing the paint against him. Attempted 22% of his shots in the half court from the perimeter scoring 0.925 points per jump shot [51st percentile]. Mechanics are a work in progress, but he made several timely threes in ACC and NCAA Tournament play. Could make another jump as a scorer if he can improve his free throw shooting and grow into a viable floor spacer.

  • Played an unselfish style despite all his merits as a scorer. Flashed promising vision on the move and little ego moving the ball this season.

  • Ranked 3rd in the NCAA and 1st in the ACC in scoring efficiency among players using over 10 possessions per game (1.246 ppp)
  • Ranked 2nd in the NCAA and 1st in the ACC in Put Back scoring (3.9 ppg)
  • Ranked 1st in the ACC in Cut scoring (3.8 ppg)

Defensive Analysis

  • Combination of explosiveness, strength, and closing speed made him a difference maker defensively and gives him considerable upside and versatility projecting ahead. Emerged as the anchor of one of the nation’s top units with his ability to get in the passing lanes, protect the rim, and defend multiple positions.

  • Allowed 0.355 points per one-on-one possession with many teams opting not to test him throughout the season.   Had a clear, positive impact on the Blue Devils defense when he was on the court, regardless of what position he was playing. Ability to close the gap on would-be finishers and open jump shooters is exceptional for a player his size.