Scottie Pippen thinks Zion Williamson is a better prospect than LeBron James
Scottie Pippen needs a history lesson.
In an appearance on “The Jump” Friday afternoon, the Hall of Famer was asked where Duke University star Zion Williamson stacks up on a theoretical draft board of all-time great prospects.
His answer not only showed a lack of knowledge about the hallowed 1984 NBA draft, but also served as another indication that the Zion Williamson hype train may be moving so fast that it’s speeding off-track.
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) February 2, 2019
Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan, with whom Scottie Pippen won six championships in the 1990s, wasn’t even the first player selected in his draft class. That honor went to fellow Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon, who was a lock to go first overall after setting the college basketball world on fire with Houston’s Phi Slama Jama.
The Portland Trail Blazers took Sam Bowie next, beginning their unfortunate string of bad luck regarding injuries to presumptive franchise players.
Jordan was drafted third overall, beset by both his lack of a consistent jump shot and concerns that his supposedly wild style of play wouldn’t mesh with the more structured NBA game. Whoops!
Jordan’s subsequent unparalleled success says nothing about the prospect he was coming out of North Carolina. If Olajuwon was the near-consensus number one pick in 1984, how could Jordan be a better prospect than Williamson?
Pippen’s assessment is just as vexing for his decision to completely overlook LeBron James. Indeed, there’s never been a prospect with Williamson’s combination of size, power, speed and explosive athleticism — even James. But basketball is about far more than measureables, and James’ world-class court vision sets him apart from Williamson all by itself, even before accounting for his superior, if flawed, shooting stroke.
Is Williamson an elite prospect? Absolutely. But a better prompt here would be how he stacks up against other prospective draftees guaranteed to go first overall, like Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, and Tim Duncan.