The New Orleans Pelicans are routinely subject of “small market” bias in NBA circles. There is one person whose likeness is transcendent of the market: Zion Williamson.
Even if Zion were to play in Siberia, he would garner attention for throwing down a windmill dunk in the middle of a third quarter.
The latest to give Zion his dues are 2K Sports, ranking him at an 89 overall in their upcoming 2K22 video game. Basketball fans routinely complain about the games grades of their favorite players and share how they would change it to their liking.
Although it’s just a video game, players, in particular, take this fairly seriously. In the era of cord-cutting, fewer and fewer people are watching the entirety of an NBA regular-season game. Casual fans get their basic knowledge of the league through the game. Sure they don’t matter from an on-court side of things, but it helps players expand their fanbase and garner more likeness.
Zion an 89: Fair or Foul?
Even though he is a household name, few understand how incredible Zion Williamson is on a basketball court.
He has turned into one of the most unstoppable offensive talents of the last two decades, and the numbers back it up. Last season Zion lead the league in FG% and EFG% (minimum 15 shot attempts) and was 8th in PPG.
When he took on the task of being the primary ball-handler, it was like watching a runaway train rumble down the tracks. Zion made defensive stalwarts like Ben Simmons look lost as they tried to decipher just how they could stop this freak of nature. It’s reasons like these why Zion was able to earn his first All-Star game birth at just 20 years of age.
Sure, the defensive rotations were abysmal at points the last few seasons, but there was evident growth in that area. His athletic profile and lateral quickness alone gives him the ability to one day be an above-average defender.
The only other criticism he faces is that he is not a “winning player.” That has always been a funny narrative, considering the Pelicans winning percentage increases by over 11% in games Zion plays.
With Stan Van Gundy at the helm and the lack of cohesion on the roster, few believed New Orleans would be a playoff team last season. So, why should Zion be punished for not being able to get them there?
Between his utter dominance on offense and rapidly improving defensive ability, I think Zion is slightly underrated, at an 89 overall. In my opinion, he is one of the best 15 players in the game, in an era where the talent in the league has never been better. For that reason, he should crack the coveted “90” threshold.
My Updated Zion 2K22 Ranking: 92