KFS Draft Watch: Breaking down Zion Williamson’s MSG debut

Duke played Texas Tech on December 20th, a game that featured, potentially, five first round picks, four of whom are likely lottery picks.

Jarrett Culver absolutely showed out for Texas Tech (mini-scouting report on him can be found here), RJ picked up the slack once Zion fouled out (although he had a VERY rough game overall), Cam Reddish was a non-factor for most of the game, and Tre Jones was his usual HIGH impact two-way self.

Even though I scouted each of these players in their Madison Square Garden debut (Javin DeLaurier is your glue guy who I think might make an NBA roster, or receive a two-way contract, at some point), I wanted to make a “brief” video on the good and bad of Zion’s game last night.

The good vastly outweighed the bad, as you will see below and in the video, and against the top defense in the country, Zion showed why he is the consensus #1 pick in the 2019 draft.

Make sure to follow @frontofficeeye on Twitter and subscribe to Spencer’s YouTube Channel for more college breakdowns. Enjoy!

The Good:

  • Rebounding: 13 in 25 minutes.
  • Transition: gazelle in transition and LOVES getting out. His finishes get the crowd and team pumped up.
  • Off ball defense: from the positioning, to the weak-side blocks and steals, his off ball defense was fantastic. Great activity, awareness (picked up open man twice), and nice job getting through screens by getting skinny (impressive for someone his size).
  • FTs: 9/10 from the line! Form looked way smoother too, with his release being closer to full extension instead of the half cocked release he has sometimes.
  • He drew 8(!) fouls by himself.
  • Awesome job driving into the paint drawing fouls and drawing in multiple defenders that created looks for teammates (or starting the swing that led to the look).

The Bad: 

  • Risky decisions going for steals and blocks.
  • Too many turnovers (including two on offensive fouls off the spin, which defenses know is his pet move).
  • Shooting from the outside is still a concern. He doesn’t get squared up in his upper OR lower body, with feet angled one way and elbow flaring the opposite way. This issue plagued him during AAU, and has plagued him all season long, which is why his shooting has not improved as much as we would have liked. It is also why his off the dribble jumper, an area where he showed *some potential* during his AAU games, is a little further along than his C&S shooting – more relaxed off jumper and shooting elbow is more aligned with the rim (even if his lower body squaring up is still hit or miss).

Fit With Knicks

It’s hard not watching the Knicks, watching Knox, and not seeing the immediate fit. From his playmaking from the 4 position, to his rebounding, defensive versatility, and endless amounts of energy, he is the perfect fit next to KP (who will presumably be a 5 going forward). He can switch onto smaller defenders, while at the same time play a high level of team defense, isolation defense, and help with KP’s rebounding deficiencies. If there is one player in this entire draft who fits the Knicks’ roster makeup to a “T,” it is Zion.

Zion Williamson teases Knicks fans in Garden debut

Four lottery picks were on display at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night, but the buzz in the building surrounded Duke’s freshman Zion Williamson, who many Knicks fans are hoping will become the team’s first top lottery prize since Patrick Ewing.

Williamson started off the night with a highlight-reel dunk, on his way to posting 17 points and 13 rebounds in 25 minutes before fouling out with under four minutes to play.

Knicks President Steve Mills was in attendance, as were Emmanuel Mudiay and Kevin Knox.

After the game, local reporters were ready to ask Zion about playing for the Knicks.

“This is the Garden,” Williamson said, via Jeff Borzello. “A lot of greats have come through here. My favorite great to come through here was probably Bernard King because my stepdad talked about him a lot how he just put the ball in the basket. … I had to go watch his highlights. He could really score the basketball. He was incredible how he did it.”

Williamson was asked directly about maybe someday playing for the Knicks, a question he ducked by looking at his teammate before asking RJ Barrett if he wants to play for the team that calls Madison Square Garden home. The potential number one overall pick then gave the appropriate answer by stating he would be happy to play for the Knicks or any team that drafts him.

Duke turned the hyped night into a win over Texas Tech. However, both Cam Reddish (1-7) and RJ Barrett (7-22) struggled from the field, while committing a combined 12 turnovers. The best player on the floor might have been the lottery pick projected to be drafted behind the three Duke prospects, and that was Jarrett Culver from Texas Tech. Culver had 25 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists in the loss.