Zion Williamson is back from his injury and its like he somehow got even better while healing up. In his two games after return from injury Zion dropped 29 points and 14 rebounds on Syracuse going a perfect 13-13 from the field in a fiery return, and he followed that up with a 31 points, 11 rebounds outing against the number 2 seed North Carolina that included an offensive rebound and score off his own miss that got Duke the 1 point lead that they held on to for the win.
By NBA superstar standards, those number do not scream historical, but trust me they are. The game lengths are shorter (20 min halves). Rotations are longer. There is no NBA level guard out there dishing to big men for easier makes. Spacing in college doesn’t compare to the NBA spacing.
Shot Clocks are longer, meaning even fewer possessions for the teams. And especially for Zion, the lack of a Defensive 3 second rule means the opposition center can plant his feet permanently under the rim and try to swat anyone that attacks the rim.
So 2 back to back games of 25+ points and 10+ rebounds are not as commonplace as you might think. Think of some of the best bigs to have come from the college system. Think Karl Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid or Anthony Davis. Not a single one of them ever had a back to back 25+ points 10+ rebounds games in the NCAA.
Zion Williamson JUMPS VERY HIGH Photo Thread pic.twitter.com/EOQp0sdVyF
— David Astramskas (@redapples) March 16, 2019
when you contest a Zion Williamson shot and he misses but before you land on the floor he’s already back up in the air going for a put back pic.twitter.com/Vwx8KX94sb
— Bruh Report (@BruhReport) March 16, 2019
The last person to achieve this? He’s already entered the NBA, Won 5 championships, become a legend and a shoe in for first ballot hall of fame. You might know him as the Big Fundamental. Or Tim Duncan.
The fact that Zion strung these two games back to back immediately after coming back from injury is even more ridiculous. But everything Zion does is ridiculous. His college stats point to the fact that this is not only a historic season, it is literally THE most historic season any player has had in college basketball.
Zion finishes in the top-5 (if not at the top which is true in most cases) in almost every metric while being compared to the best college basketball players of all time. And this list doesn’t contain just Centers. Its an all inclusive list that Zion seems to be absolutely lording over.
Zion is as much of a 1st overall pick as there as ever been. The last time the top pick was this much of a lock-in was when a certain LeBron James declared for the NBA draft right out of High School. And the hoopla surrounding both the players before they step foot on an NBA court seems very similar.
LeBron James was King before he was in the NBA. Zion Williamson tore his Nike shoes and Nike stock dropped a couple of points and they had to send a team to China to fix the problem. The fame before earning their first penny playing basketball is unmatched and Zion will do well to emulate LeBron and the career he has had.
Whichever team wins the lottery is going to land his supreme talents, but there are some teams better equipped to handle such talent than the others. We have seen firsthand what Cleveland Cavaliers did with the great talents of early years LeBron and early years of Kyrie (until LeBron bailed him out).
Same with the Knicks, who have no experience in developing talent and the only good talent that landed in their lap (Porzingis), they somehow managed to have an extremely ugly break up with. Those are 2 teams with the best odds to land the no.1 pick (14% chance each along with Phoenix Suns) and they will both test Zion in different ways, were he to go there.
Knicks players have to deal with unending media interactions and the spotlight, plus he will be looked at to single handedly improve the Knicks team (unless they land Kyrie and KD, and while that comes with its own problems, I have my doubts about whether any superstar wants to join a team owned by James Dolan). With Cavs he will face the same problem of an ineffective owner and front office with no ability to attract a good cast of talent around Zion.
There are plenty other teams that might just win the lottery (Laker Gods, please, I ask very little of you), but each comes with its own set of challenges. Zion is used to media attention. But he is so good at basketball that he’s drawn this level of attention playing High School and College basketball.
But NBA is a different beast altogether. Expectations become way higher, opponents become lot tougher, and putting a team on your back is no longer that easy. In the middle of that will be Zion and his uniquely amazing game.
His path will have to be his own, because frankly the NBA world hasn’t seen anything like Zion Williamson. Whatever that is, one thing is for certain, Zion is going to change the scenery of NBA basketball and we can’t wait to see how that unfolds.