Zion Williamson is the most exciting NBA rookie since LeBron James burst onto the scene 16 years ago. He came into the league with massive expectations, and he’s already living up to them.
On Tuesday night, we get to watch these two stars match up for the first time.
While it’s far too early to say whether or not Zion’s career will measure up to King’s, these are the three things he will need to fix if he wants a shot at it.
LeBron James gives his body immaculate attention; that’s no secret. In 2015 alone, James spent an estimated $1.5 million on his body. That’s why he’s still lighting the league on fire at age 35.
While Zion Williamson is one of the most tantalizing talents we’ve ever seen, he also appears to be a fragile one. The Pelicans sat their prized draft pick for over three months this season while he recovered from knee surgery.
There haven’t been any direct reports that Zion mistreats his body, but some analysts thought he looked “significantly overweight” this offseason.
For a player who utilizes so much power in his game, Zion will need to learn how to use his body correctly. Luckily, he seems to be heading in that direction. According to the New York Times, Zion learned a lot about his body during his recovery, including the proper way to land softly.
If he continues to be proactive, maybe, just maybe, he could build his body into an indestructible weapon like LeBron James.
If Zion wants to leapfrog LeBron in the near future, he should hire the best free-throw shooting gurus available. If LeBron has one glaring flaw, it’s his free throw shooting. He’s shooting just under 70% this year, which isn’t horrible, but it matters.
Some people think it causes LeBron to be less aggressive as a closer because he doesn’t want to shoot free throws with the game on the line.
Zion is only shooting 60% from the free-throw line this year. He still has plenty of time to fix the kinks, but he’s already getting to the line nearly eight times a night. That would rank in the top ten if he played enough games to qualify.
If he can get closer to 80%, he would get that much closer to passing the King.
Zion Williamson is already one of the most likable players in the league. He’s smart, friendly, and fun. And he should be. It’s his rookie year, and he’s playing great. Likeability is not necessarily a flaw.
But at some point, he’ll likely have to make some tough choices that will upset some people. LeBron invited massive criticism when he took his talents to South Beach. While he announced his decision in a boneheaded manner, he still would’ve faced a huge backlash if he were more sensitive. In the long run, though, the choice helped get LeBron to get his first championship experience.
I’m personally rooting for small market teams like New Orleans, but we just saw a megastar abandon the city for the bright lights of LA. Hopefully, David Griffin can usher a new level of excellence into the Bayou, but if he can’t, Zion might have to make an unpopular decision at some point.
Luckily, that time isn’t coming any time soon. For now, let’s just enjoy the first matchup between superstars at the opposite ends of their careers.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.