Chuck Burton/Associated Press
Duke star Zion Williamson is the favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA draft, which might mean he has nothing more to prove at the college level.
In the opinion of NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen, Williamson should sit out the rest of the year (relevant discussion begins at 4:33):
“I think he’s done enough for college basketball, that it’s more about him personally now,” Pippen said Tuesday on ESPN’s The Jump. “I think for him as a young player (pauses), I would shut it down. I would stop playing, because I feel that he could risk a major injury that could really hurt his career.”
Williamson entered his freshman season with a lot of hype and has exceeded it while averaging 21.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.9 blocks per game on the year.
Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman listed him as the No. 1 prospect in the class in a tier by himself.
NBA teams are also extremely high on the athletic forward as he continues to showcase his wide skill set.
“One league personnel man told me recently that he sees Williamson as a cross between Larry Johnson and Charles Barkley, which is obviously monstrous praise,” a scout told Marc Stein of the New York Times.
It’s hard to imagine his stock getting any higher.
However, an injury could hurt his draft status depending on the severity. Michael Porter Jr. dealt with back problems last year at Missouri and still hasn’t made his NBA debut. Williamson’s teammate, Tre Jones, separated his AC joint in Monday’s game, per Gary Parrish of CBS Sports.
This could not only affect the rest of the season for the point guard, but also potentially his preparation for the NBA draft.
Pippen sees a path to avoid this type of risk by sitting out the rest of the year.
Considering Ohio State football star Nick Bosa is still projected to be a top pick in the NFL draft after leaving school early, the move isn’t out of the question in this era.
Still, Williamson could want to continue his Duke career and possibly end it with an NCAA championship before moving on to the next level.