20-year-old Zion Williamson has been hailed as the NBA’s next great superstar. After his dominant tenure at Duke, he entered the NBA with enormous expectations. And while he has yet to meet those expectations, he has easily been one of the most impressive young stars in the league.
Unfortunately, there is a huge flaw in his game: defense. This season, he hasn’t been particularly solid on that end, and it’s been quite concerning. On the “MisMatch” podcast, Kevin O’Connor went into a little more depth about Zion’s struggles on that end of the floor.
“Defensively, oh boy what is going on there Chris. He does not put in effort, does not look as explosive, not as focused and he doesn’t box out. Up and down the line of what you don’t want from a defensive player he has it and that is very, very concerning.
One thing you can count on from Zion was “effort”, he would always put in effort, always play hard and set a tone for his defense. Nowadays it’s the utter opposite, I watch that and I think multiple things. Either he is not the same level athlete prior to the injuries and maybe it could be affecting him.
The athleticism from injuries I get it but the fact that the effort is from like a 100 to 0, the closeouts he has that are so lazy. I mean it’s kind of sickening to watch at times, it really is. If we are being honest here it is sickening and it needs to be better for this team to be anything, anything close to what we believe it can be this season or in the future.”
The Mismatch with @ChrisVernon on Lakers vs Bucks, Knicks progress, RJ Barrett’s star flashes, Zion’s horrific defense, Donovan Mitchell shining, Mike Conley fitting in, the young and talented Cavaliers, and much more.
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— Kevin O’Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) January 22, 2021
At this point, both Zion and the Pelicans have been disappointing this season. The young star has become an enormous liability on defense, and the Pels haven’t been able to make up for it. They’re just 5-10 through the first 15 games.
Obviously, there is still more than enough time for Williamson to learn and adjust his game. This season is not yet lost to New Orleans, either.
But if Zion ever wants to become the player many expect him to be, he’ll have to get better at stopping his opponents.