In professional sports, many fans and experts are always looking to the future. Sure we can appreciate the talents of current stars, but we all want to be the first to say “This kid’s got it.” One kid that definitely seems to have it is Zion Williamson, the power forward who made a name for himself with the Duke Blue Devils. With experts beginning to believe the hype, can Zion Williamson become the next LeBron James?
His outstanding feature
The first thing most people notice when Zion Williamson steps onto the court is his size. He is 6’7”, which is average for a basketball player, but it is his weight of 285 lbs that stands him apart. Zion can bully his way to the basket any time he wants which makes him an unstoppable force for Duke. Despite his size, he has the agility to rival most in the NBA and has already become a dunking specialist.
He was considered to be the greatest high school dunker of all time, and now that he’s playing college he keeps on dunking over everyone. The alley-oop is always an option when Zion is in the team as he can leap higher than just about anyone thanks to his explosiveness. By the time the 2019 NBA draft happens, Zion will be 19 and is highly expected to be the number one pick. His destructive force will have NBA defensive coaches already coming up with plans to stop him.
There is a lot of hype surrounding Zion, and big stars are flying in specifically to watch Duke and their power forward play ball. The likes of LeBron James, Floyd Mayweather, and Barack Obama have all gone to Duke games in Zion’s first college season. People can’t help but be impressed by him, and he looks destined to have a Hall of Fame career in the NBA.
The problem with hype is that many players begin to believe it before they achieve anything. Duke didn’t make it to the National Championship final, despite Zion’s best efforts on the court. Some say he has weaknesses in his game, with defense being high up that list. People said the same thing of LeBron James, and it didn’t do him any harm.
Whether it’s fair or not, people are going to compare Zion to LeBron. The Lakers star has been an all-time great, but it might not have been that way. A lot of praise came LeBron’s way during his younger years, and it was how he dealt with that attention and pressure that made him stand out.
When some players begin living the superstar lifestyle, their game often suffers on the court as offcourt happenings can be a distraction. LeBron didn’t play in college but had to deal with the same pressure. At 19, LeBron was drafted to the NBA and dealt with the pressure like a pro.
Zion had just as much hype surrounding him during his first college season, but he has not let the attention get to him. He went out and performed to such a high level that if anything, the hype has grown. Coaches who work with Zion believe he has everything in his game. In his first college season, he posted 22.8 points per game, 8.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.
There is so much attention on Zion that you didn’t need to know if Duke were playing or not, all you had to do was scroll through social media. Highlights of the latest Zion dunk or block would find their way to the internet pretty quickly.
Even though Duke had two potential top-five draft picks in Cam Reddish and RJ Barrett, Zion was the star of the show. People can’t take their eyes off him and expect him to make the plays happen, just like they do with LeBron. Zion already has over 3 million Instagram followers, but that is going to rise as soon as he joins the NBA.
One thing that is remarkable about Zion is his ability to appear unfazed by everything. When he suffered a bizarre knee injury after his foot burst through his Nike sneaker, he took it in his stride and made sure he came back healthy. LeBron even sent him well wishes.
When Duke were getting ready to take the court in their Sweet 16 game, the players all had steely determination etched on their faces, well all but Zion. Instead, Zion was laughing, joking, and smiling like this was the stage he belonged on. He was not worried about going out and underperforming in front of a major audience because he knew it wasn’t going to happen.
In December 2018 Duke were playing at the Garden and reporters wanted to know what he thought about playing for the Knicks. Zion simply replied that they were a great organization, but he had a job to do with Duke. He later said he made a commitment to Duke and didn’t want people to think his mind was already on playing in the NBA.
Zion Williamson seems destined for greatness, not that he’s letting it affect him. Instead, he remains cool, calm, and collected, while the basketball world is getting hyped that it has found the next LeBron James.