What-If Wednesday: Zion Williamson

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I remember scrolling through Instagram my sophomore year of high school and seeing him for the first time. A high school kid, one year older than me, throwing down dunks that NBA players dream of. Not only that, he was athletic and well spoken, something every college team wanted. Anyone who followed House of Highlights on Instagram from the years 2016-2018 saw the young high schooler repeatedly look like he was going to break down rims. This then 17 year-old was Zion Williamson.

In case you couldn’t tell, I love basketball. Growing up in this social media age with places like BallisLife tweeting high school highlights as soon as the “Next Big Thing” put up a 40 point scoring extravaganza on some team that I’ve never heard of, I was cautiously optimistic about every high school highlight reel. Of course, Zion could be different and today, that’s exactly the “what-if” we are going to be covering. 

What if Zion Williamson is not as good as we think?

Before we start, I want this to be clear, I want to be wrong about this. I think that when in shape, Zion has a real chance to be one of the most talented and athletic players the league has ever seen. The thing that disappoints me is that there are some warning signs of not only flaws in his game, but flaws in his body. Let’s tackle the flaws in his game first, shall we?

Defense. I’m not sure if anyone can play defense anymore. When we have guys like Zion and Trae Young who are quickly becoming faces of the league, do we have a Wilt Chamberlain-type situation coming back in the modern generation. Wilt loved to fill up the stat sheet, but he wasn’t so keen on being a good teammate. Obviously, there won’t be anyone like Bill Russell who is willing to give it all for the win, but Zion could give an effort. Not closing out on open shooters is just pure laziness. Not only that, but I think that he might be one of the worst perimeter defenders ever. Not that he does it often, but in switches, I think he might be right above Enes Kanter in the worst of all time. Like I said, maybe I’m wrong about this and Williamson turns it on in the playoffs and becomes a defensive presence like we have never seen.

Health. Is Zion Williamson fat? That is the unanswerable question of our generation. Maybe he is like Tommy Heinsohn, the guy who could never stay in shape. Zion, just like Heinsohn was, had a chance to be a great player, but weight issues kept him off the floor. Not only that, Zion has only played 15 games this season. What if we have another Joel Embiid situation on our hands?

Fortunately for us NBA fans, with a little bit of patience, we will see the true story of Zion Williamson unfold before our eyes.


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