As he is wont to do, Colin Cowherd made a bold claim during The Herd on Fox Sports 1 on Tuesday. Cowherd believes that Zion Williamson, star of the NCAA and poster child for the debate about the one-and-done rule, is already a Top 20 player in the NBA, three months before the draft.
Cowherd has a lot of time to fill during his air time, and Williamson is definitely a unique enough talent that the conversation is worth having. But at the end of that conversation, most basketball fans would agree that Williamson should play a few minutes on a professional parquet before his name is thrown about with the likes of players who have been balling out on the big stage since Williamson was in middle school.
Cowherd said Williamson is top 20, but I’ll do him one better. Williamson would have trouble cracking the top 25. It would be hard to argue that Williamson is better than any of the players below, who all have the pedigree, skills, and statistics to prove they’re better than most of their NBA peers, much less Williamson, who is still at Duke. In no particular order, these players are:
To reiterate: Williamson is a truly special talent. One year from now, he could easily be making his case to be considered not just top 20, but top 10 or top 5. What he can do on the court can be matched by only a handful of players in NBA history.
But until he dons that hat on draft night and gets on the floor against real NBA defenses that have athletes near his level, it’s impossible to say how he’ll fare in the big leagues. Everything, from the speed to the off-court distractions, is multiplied tenfold in the NBA. Williamson is a rare athlete, but he’s also rather short for a player as heavy as he is; there will be questions about whether his lateral quickness is up to par to be able to stay in front of NBA players who are closer to his level of athlete than he’s ever seen before, as well as if his vertical is enough to qualify him as a rim-protector if his team goes small around him.
Like any prospect, Williamson comes with his share of questions. Yes, there hasn’t been a college prospect like Williams in a very long time, maybe never. But until he’s actually an NBA player, he can’t be positioned among their ranks. For now, just enjoy his contributions to the madness in March