Zion Williamson made his NBA debut last night against the San Antonio Spurs, putting up 22 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists on 18 minutes of play. The #1 Pick of 2019 draft also was flawless from the three point line, going 4 for 4 from behind the arc. All in all a very healthy debut for a player who hasn’t heard good news for awhile. Here are some of my takeaways from last night.
Zion had a beautiful move when he posted up on Demar DeRozan. He instantly felt a mismatch, spun off DeRozan, put his shooting hand up calling for the pass, and finished strong at the rim. You can teach getting into good position from the post, but you can’t teach IQ. What this tells me is that he will result to utilizing the post more, especially if they’re going to put guards up against him.
At 6’7 he portrays the frame and build of Paul Milsap, but more athletic. If he can control his moves in the paint and use his weight to his advantage, Williamson will be trouble in years to come. Being 284 lbs (second heaviest player in NBA history behind Eddy Curry) comes with its cons, but if he can operate in the post 60% of the time down the stretch, then it will ease more stress off of his body, as moving from block to block causes less movement then playing on the wing.
One thing I didn’t see him doing at Duke was being patient. Patience is a rare quality to have when you’re that athletic. At Duke, and even in the pre-season, we saw him be ultra-aggressive when attacking the rim. Dunking at that high of a rate and explosiveness causes a lot of stress on your knees, and legs when landing.
Last night he let the game come to him. I don’t know if it was because of the injury or the atmosphere of an official NBA game, but he was patient and reserved. Once that fourth-quarter came it all clicked and was fun to watch.
With the defense laying off of Zion he managed to hit at a high rate, but I’m not docking him for that at all. If guys sag off, make em’ pay, and that’s what he did. If he can be consistent with his jump shot it will create a lot more problems for opposing defenses, making Zion an all-around threat. It will take some time to really dictate if his jumper will be a vocal part of his game, but for now, he hasn’t disappointed.
What worries me is his weight and aggressiveness. Can he contain exploding to the rim? Can he time his jumps better? Will he lose the weight? A few questions moving forward for Williamson. Hopefully, he can get into a rhythm early and prioritize his routine.