Zion Williamson has all the buzz and hype coming into the year, and will be a talking point throughout. This is of course both in our fantasy world and in the real world. The New Orleans Pelicans had some luck when the ping pong balls fell, and ended up with the number one pick. Williamson will head to New Orleans to begin his career, and around a lot of young names. This is a completely new look team as they shipped their old franchise player, Anthony Davis, to the Los Angeles Lakers. With Jrue Holiday, Derrick Favors, Lonzo Ball, and Brandon Ingram around, this is going to be a fun team to watch, and Williamson is the cherry on top.
As for fantasy, we have a projected stat line below of what we expect. These are big numbers for a rookie coming into the season, but Williamson is no ordinary rookie. He is somewhat position-less as he can play most positions on the floor and even be a primary ball-handler at times. His position eligibility will likely fluctuate and be multi-position eligible at some point during the season. He averaged 22-8-2 at duke in 30 minutes per game. Williamson was efficient around the rim, shooting 68%. He didn’t take a ton of threes, but did shoot 33.8%. His free throw numbers are a let down, shooting 64%. This is something that we would like to see improve over the next few seasons.
Zion Williamson Projected Fantasy Stats
You’re drafting in a 9-cat fantasy basketball league (regular, not dynasty).
Where are you willing to draft Zion Williamson?
— Hashtag Basketball (@hashBasketball) July 19, 2019
This college numbers are going to get us excited, but we have to at least weigh in some adjusting to the NBA type of start. The good thing is, and especially with some of this rookie class, is that the minutes will be there right off the bat. We were all concerned about the knee injury late in the season, but he played a healthy dose down the stretch and into the tournament. Williamson thrived on getting to the rim, and that should be the case again in terms of how his offense will go. He is going to be an efficient FG% category type player right off the bat. There are a lot of solid ball-handling options on this team that will be able to create offense for Williamson, like Holiday and Ball.
I am excited to see Williamson in transition, and he was able to flash a lot of different offensive moves. His spot up game was easily the least effective, and I wouldn’t expect the Pelicans to be running that type of offense with him. He knows his limitations at the moment, and will go with what works. Williamson should see a strong usage rate in year one, and be able to produce across most categories except three-pointers. There is certainly a chance he has crazy upside in the blocks and steals departments given his athleticism and size. If he can add this into a strong offensive game, we are looking at crazy upside and a likely Rookie of the Year winner.
His projected stats lean closer to his ceiling than they do his floor, although I wouldn’t drop his floor much lower. I think the near 20 points per game is where we could see the floor start to creep it, but his efficiency around the rim and year one usage just seem too high for him to see a steep drop off. 16 points per game seems to be a solid floor number there, and 6-7 rebounds as well. If he doesn’t get the defensive stats, then that is where the floor drops out. He should take care of the basketball, and be able to be around a 50% shooter.
What to Expect
Early draft numbers have Zion Williamson going much higher than anticipated. The hype is there in the fantasy world, as the upside will be pumped out by plenty of analysis. His average pick right now is 19-20, and his auction value is at $37. Right now he is going above Luka Doncic and Bradley Beal, which is just insane to me. I love the kid, but as we get closer into the season, his ADP is tough to swallow. Of course if you are drafting him this high, you are doubling down that he hits that upside. Being around names that have already proven to hit their upside, I would rather go with them. If he slips into the 25-35 range for any reason, that is where I feel more comfortable.
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