Zion Williamson: Tools
Our scouting grades represent the composite opinion of at least three different scouts. Each category is graded based on how we view a player’s current ability level relative to NBA players at the same position (guard, wing, forward or big). A grade of 1 indicates replacement level, a grade of 5 indicates NBA average, and a grade of 10 indicates historically elite. Our composite scouting notes help provide context for our grades.
Zion is a fast-twitch athlete with incredible burst. He is able to accelerate quickly even with the ball in his hand, and he’s more than able to blow by defenders if they get twisted up at all. He also decelerates extremely well for his size, able to stop on a dime and avoid running over smaller players when dribbling downhill, navigating screens, and closing out to shooters. His top speed is not quite as good as his start/stop ability, but still high level for someone his size.
Although Zion relies on his speed more than his agility, this is still a strength relative to his position. He is quick enough to slide with most players on the perimeter, enabling him to switch across all positions. Though few college teams rely heavily on the pick and roll, this lateral agility will make a big difference at the next level when defending that play type far more often. He also changes directions quickly when dribbling. His game is primarily north-south, but remains strong in situations when he needs to play east-west.
Zion is a historically elite leaper. His explosiveness is off the charts. He is able to elevate over other players off either one or two feet, whether in motion or at a standstill. His second jump is incredibly quick, enabling him to immediately clean up infrequent misses around the rim. His frame enables him to absorb significant contact without consequence while in the air. His leaping ability is so strong that Duke had difficulty measuring his vertical.
Zion displays impressive body control given his size and explosiveness. He is rarely off balance or out of control. He does a good job avoiding both offensive and defensive fouls, an important trait as he will rarely get the benefit of the doubt at his size. He maintains balance through contact while in the air, aiding his effectiveness in finishing and rebounding situations.
Zion is built like an NFL player: broad shouldered and incredibly strong. His height and wingspan are somewhat underwhelming for his position (we approached grading Zion like a big, but with the NBA trending increasingly positionless, he may not end up as one) but his upper and lower body strength are unparalleled. Moving him off a spot is all but impossible, which he can leverage often because his speed and agility allow him to regularly beat opposing players to spots.