Zion Williamson still has a compelling case to go first overall. At the time of the 2019 draft, it would have been foolhardy to consider anyone other than Williamson with the top spot. He’s a singular athletic force: the most dominant interior scorer in the NBA when healthy. If he can maintain good health and fix a few key areas of weakness, it won’t take long for Williamson to reclaim his place at No. 1.
But, for now, he falls ever so slightly to the No. 2 spot. Mostly because of injuries. Williamson missed all of last season. He played only 24 games as a rookie, then managed 61 games in his “healthy” sophomore campaign. The extensive list of injuries on his résumé, combined with constant concerns about his conditioning in relation to his explosive athleticism, make it hard to project Williamson’s future with any level of confidence.
Despite those looming question marks, however, one cannot deny the talent. Williamson is a 6-foot-6 wrecking ball, possessing a blend of power, speed, and explosiveness completely unique to him. He cannot shoot 3s, and yet no NBA defense has figured out how to keep Williamson away from the rim. He’s too fast for bigger forwards and too strong for more nimble wings. Put multiple defenders in front of him, and Williamson can negotiate through tight spaces with inhuman precision. His footwork, burst, touch around the rim — it’s all pretty hard to believe at first glance.
Williamson even took on point guard duties of a kind before his injury a couple years ago. There has been an adjustment period with his new teammates to begin the 2022-23 season, but Williamson is an adept playmaker in addition to his potential to lead the NBA in scoring one day. The main thing holding him back (aside from injuries) is defense. Williamson just doesn’t look all that interested in being a good defender right now. That will have to change if he wants to reach his ceiling.