Zion Williamson is undoubtedly one of the most exciting and intriguing young talents in the league. He’s super skilled, practically no one can guard him, and he still has so much potential.
But there’s still a glaring issue with Zion Williamson that needs to be addressed: His play style.
Zion gets his way on the court through his strength and athleticism. That play style could very well get him hurt. The man is 6’6″, 284 pounds, basically averaging over 22 points off of dunks and put-backs.
He gets criticised for being out of shape and overweight. But that’s just not the case. The fact that people say he’s out of shape is baffling. It’s just not true.
When Zion drives towards the hoop, you can see him bull his way through defenders, but with a lot of control. That just shows he’s pretty much all strength. He understands how to play within his own body, and knows how to use it to his advantage. You would see a lot more charges and fumbles from him if he was out of shape.
With that said, Zion still needs to adjust the way he plays. Every highlight reel of his will show him dunking all over defenders or getting 4 feet in the air for a rebound or block. And that is not a sustainable way to play.
Although Zion is one of the strongest players in the league, the fact of the matter is that he’s still almost 300 pounds. And for that much weight to be landing on two knees every possession is just torn acl after torn acl waiting to happen.
That’s the problem with Zion Williamson. He doesn’t understand that the way he plays is reckless.
Especially at such a young age, it’s impossible for someone’s lower body to take on so much stress. It might be an effective way to play, it might get the crowd excited and get the team a few more possessions and wins, but it isn’t the right way to play for a guy of his size and skill. He can do so much better if he changes the way he plays even just a little bit.
It just isn’t smart for him to continue to focus his game around athleticism. Very few players, if really any at all, can do that. The only two are LeBron and Julius Erving. Other players that started their careers as an athletic finisher and dunker eventually relied on their playmaking and shooting to extend their career.
When you think of the great dunkers in NBA history, you remember the best of the best of their dunks. The only thing is, that all of those dunks came within a few years span. Vince Carter’s high flying dunks, almost all came from his Raptors days. Ray Allen’s (yes, Ray Allen was a dunker), mostly came from his Bucks days.
But the one player that is so unbelievably similar to Zion, is Greg Oden. Oden, who was listed at 284 pounds (the same as Zion), also thrived with his athleticism and dunks. Oden, similar to Zion, was also the most exciting college player in their respective class. Other than the fact that Oden is 6 inches taller, the resemblance is uncanny.
Another thing might be that Zion is still in that high school/college mindset. He’s the most hyped up prospect in the league by far and he probably still just wants to put on a show, just like how he did at Duke.
He already went through arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus and the injuries will continue to pack on unless he changes the way he plays.
If Zion Williamson wants to have a long and successful career, he needs to learn to shoot not only better, but take more jumpshots, rather than dunks. He also needs to learn how to make smarter decisions and become more of a playmaker for the Pelicans, but that comes with time and experience.
Either way, Zion is still an exciting young player to watch with so much potential in him. It would just be a shame to see it go to waste because of injury.
Photo: USA Today