Can Anything Stop Zion Williamson?
This piece does not reflect the views of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
F/C, Freshman, Duke
6’7, 285 lbs
College Stats in 2018-19:
33 games, 33 starts, 30.0 MPG, 22.6 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 1.8 BPG, 2.1 APG, 68.0 FG%, 33.8 3P%, 64.0 FT%
Where he’ll go:
Williams is the consensus No. 1 overall pick.
Williamson is in a class of his own—there isn’t really a historical comparison for his physical profile and skillset, and he has the potential to forever alter our conception of what a star in this league can be.
Williamson is an absolutely dominant player crashing to the basket and finishing above the rim. His strength and size are impressive, but his body control given his size is what truly sets him apart. For a big, Williamson has great handles, and he’s a good passer as well. There is also way more to his finishing ability than his highlight-reel dunks. He also plays extremely hard and has great instincts on defense—he treats both sides of the court with equal importance and he can get to shots that many offensive players consider safe looks. Williamson’s close-out ability is unmatched because of his verticality.
While Williamson will grow into an excellent half-court player with time, he will immediately become one of the league’s best in transition. The combination of his size and speed will make him practically unstoppable going downhill—because he’s so much faster than your average player of his size there will be very few transition opportunities where Williamson will not create a mismatch. He’s going to be a nightmare to defend.
If you need to play devil’s advocate, there’s a world where Williamson’s insane physical gifts are somewhat undercut by the fact that the NBA in 2019 is dominated by players who can shoot and get their own shot. While Williamson was a decent three-point shooter in college, he’s not a sharpshooter and only attempted 2.2 threes per game. Williamson will also likely need to play with a point guard who can break down defenses and get him the type of above-the-rim lob threats that make Williamson so unstoppable.
However, Williamson’s ability to play the pick and roll as either the screener or the ball-handler should mitigate many of the struggles he may have early on figuring out how to get his own shot in the NBA. Williamson is an absolute freak athlete and an incredible prospect who has a chance to re-define what a superstar in the NBA looks like.