Stephen A. Smith Thinks Zion Williamson Can Still Win Rookie of the Year

By Stephen Douglas
Zion Williamson and Ja Morant
Zion Williamson and Ja Morant / Ethan Miller/Getty Images
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Can Zion Williamson still win Rookie of the Year? The First Take crew discussed the possibility today. The very topic left Jay Williams making faces, but Stephen A. Smith believes that Zion still has a chance.

That's a very nice argument you've got there, Stephen A. It would be a real shame if something happened to it.

Ja Morant has appeared in 37 games and is averaging 17.9 points, 7 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.1 steals. He's shooting 49% from the floor, 40% from three and 80% from the free throw line. Those numbers would be good for Rookie of the Year any season. Most importantly, the Memphis Grizzlies are 20-23 and in 8th place in the Western Conference.

Morant has to go away. If he stays healthy and plays anywhere near the same level, he's a lock. For Zion's sake he could get injured or abducted by aliens. The other possibility is that Morant gets suspended for dunking on someone so hard it is simultaneously called a flagrant-2. We can't completely out that option. Either way, Ja (and Kendrick Nunn and then R.J. Barrett) has to disappear for Zion to have a chance.

The Pelicans, with a 17-27 record, are currently 3.5 games behind the Grizzlies. In addition to Morant being kidnapped, the Pelicans, behind Zion, will need to catch the Grizzlies, while also leapfrogging the Suns, Blazers and Spurs, to make the playoffs.

Even then, only five players in NBA history have appeared in fewer than 67 games and won Rookie of the Year. The Pelicans only have 38 games remaining.

Vince Carter and Patrick Ewing had the shortest rookie campaigns to be honored with the award. Vince played in all 50 of the Toronto Raptors' 50 games during the strike-shortened 1998-1999 season. Ewing missed 32 games for the Knicks during the '85-'86 season but was still able to beat out Xavier McDaniels and Karl Malone.

If Morant, Barrett, and Nunn dissipate into thin air, the Pelicans make the playoffs, and Zion averages, like, 30 points and 15 rebounds a game for 35+ games, Zion could win Rookie of the Year. So anyone taking bets on Williamson winning Rookie of the Year is clearly just robbing people.

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