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Stop the Hype: Zion Williamson isn’t the next LeBron James

Zion Williamson LeBron James

With the current age of recruiting, young, talented players are being recognized earlier on than any other time period in basketball. While the Ball brothers were the most polarizing figures for high school sports, Zion Williamson’s freakish athleticism has fans gushing over his potential.

Williamson has recently announced his commitment to Duke and will play under Coach K for a year before he likely turns pro. People are amazed by the youngsters ability, claiming he’s the best young player since LeBron James.

Williamson has had numerous highlight reels on YouTube reach millions of views. He has gained quite a following for his insane dunks, and has 1.1 million followers on Instagram. He’s by far the most followed and talked about high school athlete in the nation, even though he’s ranked third in the nation behind Cam Reddish and R.J. Barrett, who also both are committed to Duke. Here are the reasons people need to stop the hype.

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Lack of a 3-point shot

Williamson’s offensive numbers are staggering. He’s averaging a whopping 37 points per game in his senior season, but he has no perimeter game. He has shot 26 percent from the 3-point line in his high school career, and 17 percent in his senior year.

Keep in mind, the high school 3-point line is two feet closer than the NBA 3-point line. The high school 3-pointer is essentially a NBA mid-range shot. If he’s not a threat to score from outside, defenses can play off of him and protect the paint.

Inconsistent free throws

Again, while his high school offensive numbers haven’t been hurt by his lack of a jump shot, without consistently being able to make free-throws, it will be difficult for him to stay on the court in the late-game scenarios. He’s only shot 60 percent from the charity stripe in high school. He needs to improve that if he wants to be an NBA starter in the future.

Tougher competition


Zion Williamson LeBron James
Zion will play in the Mcdonald’s All-American Game in March at Phillips Arena in Atlanta. (Photo by 247 Sports)

While Zion looks like a man against boys in his highlight reels, how will he look when he’s matched up with guys of similar athletic ability? There’s an endless supply of former high school standouts who couldn’t perform at the higher level, even players who were once thought of as the very best players in their high school class.


Harrison Barnes was once dubbed as the next Michael Jordan coming out of high school because of his athletic ability. While Barnes has developed into a solid starter in the NBA, he isn’t the player people hyped him up to be.

Andrew Wiggins also grew a following with his freakish athleticism in high school, and people expected him to be the next Kobe Bryant. While Wiggins is a good NBA player, his athleticism is matched by lots of other players in the league, and he doesn’t dominate the game like he used to.

Nearly everyone in the NBA dominated in high school. How will Zion look on the court with guys just as athletic as he is?

Not a great passer

Williamson fills up the stat sheet with lots of buckets, rebounds and absolutely absurd blocked shots. However, he isn’t a great passer.

While it’s hard to judge because he’s so much more athletic than everyone else, he needs to be able to pass at the higher levels. He still doesn’t average over three assists per game, and he doesn’t have a great assist to turnover ratio you want to see from a point-forward, which is what he’d likely play in the NBA.

Doesn’t fit NBA mold


Zion Williamson LeBron James
Williamson scored 51 points in the state title game as a junior to carry his team to victory. (Photo by SB Nation)

Zion Williamson compares well to three stars because of his stature: LeBron James, Draymond Green and Ben Simmons. While all three of the players are great, they are outliers in the NBA mold.

They are all point forwards, with varying degrees of a jump shot. James dominated physically in his youth, but his passing, shooting and skill are what make him the best player in the league.

Green is an All-Star because of his defense and passing, and has developed a respectable 3-point shot.

Simmons is still young, but his passing combined with his athleticism is what has allowed him to see marginal success at basketball’s highest level.

These three are the only successful players who fit Williamson’s mold. However, they are significantly more skilled than he is.

Williamson is an exciting young player, who will likely have success at Duke University under its great coaching staff. However, he’s likely to declare for the draft the following year, and fans will realize he is overhyped. As physically imposing as he is, he’ll soon realize the NBA isn’t high school. Without being able to shoot or pass, you won’t have success in the current NBA.


Featured image by Richard Brian, Las Vegas Review-Journal

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