We’re less than two months removed from the NBA draft, but the excitement is already brewing for one of the top prospects in next year’s class.
Zion Williamson has been on the radar for some time now thanks to his ridiculous dunks in high school, and now that he’s entering his freshman year at Duke, the buzz he’s creating is already unavoidable.
If you’ve never seen the 18-year-old, he looks more like an NFL defensive end than a fleet-footed forward. Listed by Duke at 6-foot-7, 285 pounds, his size is eye-popping for someone his age, but what’s truly spectacular is his combination of power and athleticism.
Williamson is a high flyer in every sense of the word. He regularly posterises defenders with rim-rocking slams and somehow, can easily dunk from the free throw line despite carrying as much weight as he does.
He also utilises his explosiveness on the other end of the floor as well, often making jaw-dropping blocks in which he swallows up a player’s shot.
While Williamson is undoubtedly a walking highlight, there are still questions surrounding his ability as an all-around player who can thrive against better athletes at the college level and beyond.
In his first game with Duke, the potential one-and-done star eased some of those concerns with a monster effort against Ryerson.
It was a preseason game against a subpar opponent, but Williamson looked convincing for the Blue Devils in the 86-67 win.
In his 29-point, 13-rebound performance, Williamson produced some stellar moments, including a putback dunk and alley-oop slam. He also showcased his ability to absolutely sky for rebounds, as well as his underrated ball-handling.
Most importantly though, Williamson shot 3-of-4 from long range – a positive sign considering his outside shooting is the weakest part of his game.
With everything he can do inside the arc, Williamson doesn’t have to be a knockdown 3-point shooter to have success in the NBA. However, being able to keep defences honest by hitting open 3s would go a long way in opening up his game.
Heading into what is expected to be his lone season at Duke, Williamson is considered a top-five draft prospect, along with teammates R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish. With the Blue Devils loaded with talent this year, it will be interesting to see the hierarchy among the trio.
Barrett, Reddish and Williamson are all around the same height, but whereas Williamson is more of undersized big man, Barrett and Reddish are pure wings who can operate as three-level scorers.
While Williamson may not be the best prospect of the three, it’s certainly possible he’s not only the most exciting Duke player to watch this season, but the most exciting player in the nation.
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