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Duke’s Zion Williamson announced his intention to enter the 2019 NBA draft Monday, where he will almost certainly be the top player off the board.
Williamson made the decision official via a post on his Instagram account.
Williamson entered college as the third-ranked player in Duke’s 2018 recruiting class behind RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish. He left as the unanimous top player in the country and one of the brightest stars in recent college basketball history.
Listed at 6’7″ and 285 pounds, Williamson resembles an NFL defensive end more than a traditional basketball player.
When Williamson steps on the floor, it becomes even more apparent he’s a once-in-a-generation athlete. He pulled off in-game dunks so captivating that NBA fans are already clamoring for him to enter next year’s Slam Dunk Contest, and he isn’t only a jaw-dropping athlete.
Williamson already has plus ball-handling for a big man, is a strong passer and uses his physical advantages to finish among the nation’s best at the rim.
His game has drawn praise from across the basketball world, with Scottie Pippen calling him the best prospect since Michael Jordan and LeBron James attending his games just to catch a glimpse.
“He’s unreal. We were talking about him the other day in our team room,” Stephen Curry told reporters. “He has a lot of hype around him and he’s unbelievably talented, but you can’t teach, like, his passion and the way that … he plays. He plays hard every possession, and that’s an underrated skill that kids can … emulate.”
The biggest concern about Williamson is whether he can withstand the rigors of an 82-game season. He missed five games because of a sprained knee he suffered when he blew his shoe apart. The incident caused Nike’s stock to drop the next day.
Williams looks like a can’t-miss NBA prospect, but he does have some flaws. He’s not a good or comfortable shooter from long range; he shot 33.8 percent from the college three-point line and was a 64 percent free-throw shooter.
To reach his potential, Williams will have to put in the work like fellow athletic marvel Blake Griffin has over the years and craft his all-around game. Griffin’s shot is still slow and hitchy, but he’s made it work and turned himself into a good three-point shooter, thus extending his prime a few extra years.
Williamson is going to be a good NBA player no matter what, but he has the ceiling of a top-10 player in the league. It’ll be critical for him to wind up with the right situation and coaching staff.