Finally, the correct 2019 NBA draft order can get underway. On Monday, Zion Williamson announced that he is foregoing his final three seasons with the Duke Blue Devils to join a pair of freshman teammates into the NBA Draft.
We all know the accolades Williamson won during his brief tenure with the Blue Devils. Now, he’s attempting to be the overall No. 1 pick this summer. Currently, the only question is where Williamson will end up. Will it be the Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks or gasp… the Los Angeles Lakers who also have a lottery selection coming up.
Williamson burst onto the scene as 1 of 4 elite prospects this season. He quickly stood out due to his raw ability to get to the rim. However, Williamson displayed an uncanny ability to play basketball at a high level. He plays the passing lanes as well as anyone in college basketball. He protected the rim as well as anyone in the game. He also showed promise as a man to man defender in multiple situations. Whether it was on the wing or in the paint, Zion was a problem for many offensive players. Yet, those are the biggest questions coming into the draft. Can Williamson move his feet well enough to cover the small forwards? Yes, he can. The real question should be- who is going to cover Zion Williamson?
He led the Blue Devils to a (32-6) record. Despite missing five games, Williamson’s legacy grew off the court. Once his shoe exploded in the opening seconds of the first North Carolina game, the basketball world was abuzz with how much power he possessed. Then he returned in the ACC Tournament without missing a beat. Many people thought he would take awhile to regain form. Clearly, none of us were with him “shooting in the gym.”
Williamson finished the season with 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. He also averaged 2.1 steals and 1.8 blocks per game. More importantly, Williamson shot 68 percent from the field. He connected on 33.8 percent of his 3-point shots. That percentage was slightly better than Cam Reddish and R.J. Barrett this season.
In spite of all of Williamson’s exploits, the Blue Devils fell one game shot of the Final Four. They lost to the Michigan State Spartans in the final seconds. It happened to be the last time we will see him in a college game. As the potential No. 1 pick, we should see Williamson during NBA Summer League play. That will be our first glimpse of him against some NBA competition.
Although Williamson won the Karl Malone award as the best power forward, he may have been the best college player at multiple positions. He was also the third freshman to win the Wooden Award. Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis also won the award in previous years.