Tuesday at the Staples Centre was a night to remember with an ultimate showdown between one of the greats (LeBron) and the new basketball phenomenon Zion Williamson.
At the age of eighteen, Zion took the stage with the NCAA at the University of Duke, dominating the NCAA and becoming the unanimous number one pick in the 2019 NBA draft. Just THIRTEEN games in and Zion is already averaging 23 points a game, 7 rebounds and 2 assists. With a very late start to the season, Zion is already in the discussion in regards to being the rookie of the year. Some NBA analyst have even speculated that Zion Williamson could steal the Rookie of the Year Award from the favorite, Jamal (Ja) Morant, the young point guard for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Right now Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans are three games back from the 8th seed of the Western Conference Playoffs. If Zion can catch up to Ja’s Grizzlies, then Zion will be undoubtedly the Rookie of the Year, starting him off on a similar path as a young man who won the Rookie of the Year Award 17 years ago, LeBron James himself.
In LeBron’s first year he average 21 Points, 5 rebounds and 6 Assists which is quite similar to Zion in terms of immediate impact. Both players started off with lower level teams and LeBron was able to elevate the horrible record of the Cleveland Cavaliers to a NBA championship in 2016. Can Zion make the same impact as Lebron? LeBron has been the leader and economic engine of the NBA for the last decade, as continued to be one of the most influential players on and off the court. For Zion to follow in his footsteps, he would have to do a lot more then just demonstrate pure talent.
One strength that LeBron James has over most players is the ability to elevate his teammates once he is on the court. LeBron James doesn’t just score the ball and take the final shots, the moves the ball around to make sure all team mates can have the best chances of making the basket. He turned a bottom feeder (the Cavs) the lead them to the NBA Finals FIVE times, something never done in the franchises history.
The good news is that Zion has the physicality and personality to fulfill that role. Zion portrays a very humble young man with an ambition to prove himself in this league. He has already signed an $80 million endorsement deal with Nike and is building a strong social presence with 4.8 million followers on Instagram. However, he has a very long way to go if he wants a similar resume as the King. Zion needs to dominate in multiple skills to become an all time great, hes shown great scoring and rebounding abilities, but his passing and clutch moments must elevate in order to take throne.