The 19 year old youngster, Zion Williamson has arrived and he is here to change the face of the NBA and basketball in general. Infact he may even become the face of a new era in sport!
Williamson is a 6ft 6 beast on the court. By no means is his height extraordinarily tall for an NBA player. (The average height of an NBA player is quoted as 6 ft 7. And to give further context LeBron James and Luka Doncic are listed as 6ft 7).
Though average in height, he has the ability to mix it up, attacking inside and outside. He plays with the knowledge that he is quicker, stronger and can out jump all other players. This freakish combination allows him to dominate consistently with the same moves that are unstoppable.
Let’s talk through some of these moves, and why opposing players are at his mercy.
Alley Oop Slam
You will see the alley oop, time and time again to Williamson. Even an uncoordinated clutz like me, could lob it up anywhere and he would be able to dunk it. His ability to jump high with explosive quickness, coupled with extraordinary reach, allows him to grab the ball anywhere out of the air whilst moving in the direction of the ring and slam it through. Opposing players cannot stop this for several reasons:
Firstly, other players can’t jump as high to stop the catch;
Secondly, they can’t get into position as quickly as Williamson can; and
Lastly they don’t have the strength to stop being bullied by the third heaviest player in the league.
Let’s face it, no one wants to end up as a poster boy. Williamson has an aura similar to the Shaquille O Neal days. A monster in the air, that can finish off with a tremendous slam.
When Williamson has the ball, and starts backing down any player, the odds are that he will score. In particular, against smaller players, the back down is easy money. He has beautiful ball control, and positions his body well to protect the ball. As he backs closer and closer to the ring, the opposing player can only wait for weak side help or simply hack him.
Williamson knows he only has to turn, jump and lay the ball up if he is within 10 feet of the basket. It’s a very simple move, but unstoppable. Too big and strong to be pushed off the block, too wide to swipe away the ball, and too powerful to prevent the layup. What is amazing, is that if a second player attempts to help from weakside it’s usually ineffective. He is too big to stop. A lay up or dunk is inevitable.
Take a good look at the above picture and tell me you are not amazed.
Williamson has the ability to crash the offensive boards. His second bounce jump is faster and higher than other players, allowing him to rise above and put the ball back through the hoop. Even with a box out, Williamson has the ability to rise over the defender to grab the ball. For normal players, rising over a box out will usually result in an over the back foul. But not for Williamson. He can jump and rise high enough to literally out reach the defenders.
A defender who is tall and slow will get burnt from Williamson. He is too quick off the dribble and too agile. For a player that is so heavy and wide, he has a surprisingly ability to slip through the slimmest of gaps and explode to the hoop for a layout.
In the above GIF you can see how quickly he moves. Starting from the top of the key, just outside the three point line, he easily gets past several defenders for the easy lay up.
Williamson is a player that has tremendous power. He can bully his way to obtain a basket. BUT he can also use finesse. This is what makes him so special. The blend of power and finesse allows him to bring the ball up on a fast break. His favorite move is the behind the back dribble, punishing those who reach in. He then creates space by gliding through to the basket, often coming up on the other side of the ring to ram home the basketball.
Though Williamson has a few go to moves that are almost unstoppable, there are weaknesses to his game. He needs to develop a few more skills to help reduce the reliance on his key skill sets, and to keep the opposition guessing.
Williamson needs to develop a consistent outside shot. He can catch fire at times, but when he is cold, he is very cold. His shot appears to be too flat when coming off the hand. To obtain more arc, he needs to rock back a little more for his shot to rise up or shoot from lower at the stomach to push the ball up higher.
Williamson will attract many defenders and therefore needs to learn how to create the assist for his team mates. Creating the assist isn’t simply passing out to the nearest team mate when double teamed. He needs draw upon how Luka Doncic plays, and manipulate the defense.
It is scary to consider, but if Williamson were able to lose weight, he would be able to be even more explosive. He would be able to work his way to middle of the key, and shoot easy mid range jumpers all day long. Put backs would like stealing candy from a baby. Some say that Williamson is simply big boned and muscly. True that may be, but the fact is, he would be a better player if he could lose weight.
Still in the infancy of his career, Williamson has yet to learn how to play within an NBA team. Besides the alley oop, he needs to add to his reportoir. The pick and roll, drive and pass, and quick rotation of the ball. The more he plays within and together with a team, the better he will become. This is a scary thought, that Williamson can improve even more!
Zion Williamson is already a superstar. With his incredible set of moves that opposing teams are studying to stop, Williamson will need to learn to adjust his game and develop an extra set of skills that will supplement his existing ones.