By: Jake Sockett Twitter: @SockettJake Instagram: @jake.sockett
Upon doing my morning Twitter scroll, I came across a Bleacher Report tweet of a gif of Zion Williamson clenching his infinity-gauntlet clad fist, captioned “Fun isn’t something one considers when balancing the NBA.” I’m going to take the lead on this one and say to whoever at B/R tweeted that, from the bottom of my heart, shut the fuck up.
Zion Williamson is a 19-year-old kid who hasn’t played a single minute in the NBA and barely played in the Summer League before getting shut down due to injury. He averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game at Duke on 68%/33%/64% shooting splits. Those stats are eerily similar to Carmelo Anthony’s lone season at Syracuse when he averaged 22.2 points, 10 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game on 45%/33%/70% splits. I’m not saying that Zion will be the next Melo, but let’s just acknowledge that his year at Duke wasn’t an unprecedented college season.
What I am saying is that we need to pump the breaks on this guy a little bit for his sake. Don’t get me wrong; he’s an incredibly exciting prospect. He’s freakishly athletic, skilled, and he’s great with media. If you’re a Pelicans fan (bless your heart if you are), this is the most excited you’ve been since the Boogie Cousins trade.
But he’s not LeBron James.
He’s got enormous expectations laid out for him and I don’t think there’s any way for him to reach them. What are we supposed to expect out of Zion other than immediate success if all we’ve been told is that he’s going to take the league by storm and dominate? How else are we supposed to be thinking when ESPN ranks him as the 42nd best player in the league right now?
I think Zion will be a good player. He might get the Pelicans to the seventh or eighth seed in an absolutely loaded Western Conference which would be a great feat. David Griffin has built a solid supporting cast for Zion. But keep in mind that a lot will hinge on Lonzo’s ability to stay healthy and mesh well with Jrue Holiday (which would be one of the best defensive guard duos in the league). Brandon Ingram’s health and ability to space the floor for Zion along with JJ Redick bouncing back after a down year in Philly will be key as well.
The only narrative that ESPN and B/R among other media outlets have created is that the Pelicans will only get in the playoffs if Zion drags them there in a herculean effort.
This is not going to happen in the West.
If Zion were in the East we might be having a different conversation, but the West is far too loaded for this to be feasible. If the Pelicans are going back to the playoffs, every single player on that team is going to have to be firing on all cylinders. There are just too many competitive teams that will be better than Zion on his own. But if the Pels make the playoffs that way (which is the only way they realistically will), the narrative of Zion being the savior will change and all these outlets will be pushing the story of “Are We Ready to Call Zion a Bust Yet?”
It’s an incredibly well set up narrative for the media because regardless of how the guy plays or how his team does; they will have a story to write.
It’s unfair to Zion.
The coaches, the players, and everyone else will know what he really is on the court, and I think he’ll be good. He’s just not going to be LeBron- and that’s ok.
If I had to guess, the Pels will be vying for the eighth seed and will probably make the playoffs because the league wants them to. Zion will average 17-21 points and around 7 rebounds which would be a great rookie season. (Keep that in mind when Bleacher Report posts sad tweets about Zion not averaging 35/15/9).
Just saw those ugly ass Jordans Zion was wearing during media day- he’s averaging 6/2/0.
I don’t know Jake- I see Zion as the second coming of Jesus Christ.
MVP and Championship or gtfo of the league.