As the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson will be entering the upcoming NBA season with high expectations. Despite the standout performance he showed in his one year playing for the Duke Blue Devils in college, it remains to be seen how the 6-foot-7-inch, 285-pound forward will play alongside the likes of former Los Angeles Lakers youngsters Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Hart, as well as veteran backcourt ace Jrue Holiday.
However, Pelicans vice president of basketball operations David Griffin appears to have an idea of what to look forward to once Williamson suits up for his rookie campaign.
As quoted by RealGM, Griffin opened up to The Athletic in a recent interview with the publication’s Jeff Duncan, where he discussed several topics related to his prized rookie. These included Williamson’s expected role in Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry’s offense, where Griffin believes the versatile forward could help facilitate things much like Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, only with more athleticism in his game.
“The thing about Zion, though, that excites us is, it’s not that he’s going to carry you offensively, it’s that he’s going to be able to facilitate [the] offense,” Griffin told Duncan. “If you look at him as an extremely athletic Draymond Green type who may be able to facilitate all things for others and get out in transition and make plays … that’s exciting. And because that’s what he natively really does, we’re not going to ask him to carry an undue burden [on offense].”
While not much of a scorer on a team that features Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and, until recently, had Kevin Durant as the top offensive option, Green has been one of the primary forces behind the Golden State Warriors’ dominant run of the past several seasons, thanks mostly to his abilities as a playmaker and defender. In the 2018-19 campaign, the three-time All-Star forward averaged just 7.4 points, but added a well-rounded 7.3 rebounds, 6.9 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game, as shown on his Basketball-Reference player page.
ESPN Sources: The endorsement agreement aligning No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson and Jordan Brand extends five years and becomes the richest annual rookie shoe deal in NBA history. Story: https://t.co/uQx8EdT0ur— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 24, 2019
Meanwhile, Zion Williamson posted averages of 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 2.1 steals, and 1.8 blocks while shooting 68 percent from the field, and 34 percent from three-point range during his lone season with the Duke Blue Devils, per Sports-Reference.
Aside from comparing Williamson to Draymond Green, Griffin also revealed in his interview with The Athletic that the rookie forward is expected to grow a few inches taller over time. Regarding concerns that his nearly-300-pound frame might affect his stamina and durability in the pros, Griffin said that Williamson’s playing weight has yet to be determined, as the team is more focused on ensuring he has the physical tools and conditioning needed to “control all the incredible torque that his athleticism can generate.”