Five star recruit Zion Williamson has become an Internet star this season for basketball dunking ability for his high school team in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Everyone seems to be making claims that he’s the next coming of Jesus Christ in basketball, but I’m not buying it.
There’s no denying Williamson is a freak athlete. At 6’7” 230 pounds, the #2 ranked player in the class of 2018 has thrown down dunks that likely would have won him the Slam Dunk Contest after this year’s pitiful performance by the crew selected this year.
However, looking at the highlight reels on YouTube, (I can’t just ditch school and travel to SC) there’s not much else to his game outside of his impressive leaping ability and body control in the air. His high school team runs a full court trap style defense, which causes plenty of turnovers. Spartanburg gets numbers in transition, and when Williamson is the biggest guy on the court by six inches and 30 pounds and can jump through the roof, the answer is simple: throw a lob.
The majority of D1 basketball players put up absurd numbers because they’re just plain bigger than everybody else on the court, so that’s not a gigantic problem. But looking at the highlights, nobody even comes close to his size. The competition he plays is below average at best. Kids are scared to guard him in fear that he’ll just run them over (which is a charge) because a lot of them are 5’10” white kids with little to no muscle definition or basketball future, like myself.
Very rarely do you see Williamson take defenders off the dribble, post up or shoot a perimeter jumper and knock it down. It’s just not in his game and he doesn’t need to because of his competition.
His high school tape is very comparable to Julius Randle, as is his game play style.
Both Randle and Williamson check in at 6’7” and around 235. Both were/are ranked in the top three in their respective class. Randle was ranked just behind Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker in 2013 while Williamson trails only Marvin Bagley in the 2018 rankings, per ESPN. Both can use both hands, but prefer driving and finishing with the left. Shooting range is limited; Randle has since become better with the mid-range.
Randle was productive one-and-done prospect at Kentucky, while Duke seems to be the favorite to land Williamson, who will likely also be a one-and-done player at the college level.
In the pros, Randle has morphed himself into a jack-of-all-trades type player. Randle is a good rebounder and has shown off good passing and playmaking skills a la Lamar Odom. However, he’s still limited in his offensive game from the posts and perimeter, which is something that Williamson also needs to work on.
Randle has carved a nice role for himself in the NBA, but won’t be a star in the NBA because of his inability to work on his offensive game, much like Zion Williamson. His ceiling should be a more athletic Julius Randle, while his floor could realistically be Derrick Williams.
Cover Photo via Scout