Rejoice, NBA fans. It’s ZION WILLIAMSON DAY!
The No. 1 overall pick out of Duke will make his debut Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs at just the right time for the New Orleans Pelicans, a team that’s suddenly come together over the last month or so.
There are so many questions swirling about Williamson after his return from knee surgery, and so much speculation about what he’ll be able to do in the NBA.
I’ll add to it, with a prediction that’s probably not that nuts for those fans who watched him with the Blue Devils: he’s going to turn out to be something we’ve never seen before.
This is the Williamson who blew out his shoe while playing for Duke, likely because of the sheer force he put on his foot (and knee) while trying to pivot. It’s the Williamson who brings Shaquille O’Neal-like rim-shattering thunder when he dunks, who could prove critics wrong by hitting threes occasionally and make himself unguardable in the process. He’ll wow you with his underrated ball-handling skills for a man that size. And his otherworldly springiness will lead to surprise blocks and steals like this one:
Look at that speed! Look at that bounce!
And that SIZE! The Charles Barkley comparisons were somewhat apt, but Barkley didn’t seem this explosive above the rim. At 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds, it’s shocking at how nimble and smooth he is. A reminder: there are two NBA players heavier than Williamson is, and they’re 7-foot-4 (Boban Marjanovic, 290 pounds) and 7-foot-5 (Tacko Fall, 311 pounds).
Yes, that’s led to all the concerns about his size and his knees, with the Pels saying his weight isn’t an issue, but now, New Orleans is helping him with his “kinetic chain” to take pressure off certain parts of his body. We’ve actually seen that before with Steph Curry and his ankles (that worked out well!), but you get the point. He’s the rarest of body types in the league.
How do you defend that? I keep coming back to this incredible preseason shot chart against the Chicago Bulls:
Is he going to keep getting hacked to go to the line, where he might struggle (he hit 64 percent from the charity stripe in his one year with Duke)? Or is that a bad idea because he’s strong enough to fight through some arms near the rim to give himself and-ones forever?
You get the point.
Maybe Williamson’s weight is a problem, or his penchant to explode from the floor too much for his body to take. But on the night of his debut, everything is possible, even in the limited time he’ll be on the court. Be prepared to see something you’ve never seen before, and marvel.
This content was originally published here.