Zion Williamson speaks on Ja Morant possibly beating him for Rookie of the Year

Zion Williamson, Ja Morant (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Zion Williamson, Ja Morant (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Zion Williamson sat down over video chat with Ernie Smith to talk about all things NBA, including his thoughts on who should win Rookie of the Year.

New Orleans Pelicans power forward Zion Williamson has made a case so strong in his first 19 games of his career that he’s challenging Ja Morant — who has crafted a consistent 59-game season — for Rookie of the Year.

Zion Williamson’s case for the esteemed award, even if he’s able to will the Pelicans to the playoffs, will be held back by the sheer number of games he missed, but he has a case as strong as (and perhaps even stronger than) Joel Embiid’s case for Rookie of the Year when he played just 31 games in his rookie season, also limited by injuries and load management.

Speaking to Ernie Johnson on Monday night, Williamson spoke on the Rookie of the Year race and how he sees things playing out.

Specifically, Johnson asked Zion Williamson how he felt about Morant being the front-runner for the award.

"“Ja being a brother of mine, I’m happy for Ja. Ja has worked for [the opportunity to be the front-runner], he’s earned it. I give respect when it’s due. I always do. But you know, as a competitor — I’m just a competitor —  I want to win at everything, I’m not going to sit here and say I don’t want to win, I want to win at everything. So, my goal was if I could rally my team into the playoffs hopefully I could make a run for [ROY]. It’s just God’s plan at this point."

Morant and Williamson have a long history, playing on the same AAU team in high school. Funny enough, Williamson says he and Morant were both role players rather than standout stars.

Now, they’ve gone No. 1 and No. 2 in the same NBA Draft and are competing with each other for the most prestigious award a rookie can get.

Zion Williamson spoke on this in his conversation with Johnson, praising the work ethic and the journey Morant has been on in his career.

"“If Ja wins it, I’m going to be happy for Ja, you know he’s my brother. It’s been an honor, actually, to be a part of his process, to see him go from not being on nobody’s radar to the No. 2 draft pick to possibly Rookie of the Year.”"

Williamson carefully balances two ends of the spectrum in his psyche, a pure and fierce competitor while also a respectful companion and sportsman, willing to acknowledge the work and skill of Morant.

Morant has averaged 17.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game this season, Williamson 23.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.

Undoubtedly the two are one and two in their class, regardless of what Kendrick Nunn has to say.

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