Zion Williamson has already established himself as one of the brightest young stars in the NBA, solidifying himself as the leader of the New Orleans Pelicans and notching his first All-Star appearance in his second season. Even though he came into the league labeled as a high-flying dunker, Zion has showcased he can do much more, averaging 27.0ppg, 7.3 rpg, and 3.6apg on superb efficiency with 61.7% from the floor.
The unbelievable strength, athleticism, playmaking ability, and solid shooting ability have already made him an all-around threat with numerous fans in the NBA world. Still, he hasn’t won over everybody just yet. One of those waiting to see a bit more is former NBA player and Knicks legend Charles Oakley.
Oakley was known as one of the toughest and loudest players in the 90’s, and he continued his life after basketball, not being any less easy on the tongue. During an interview, SiriusXM NBA Radio, Oakley shared why he isn’t impressed with Zion:
“(Zion) ain’t doing nothing special. He’s just putting the ball down, guys they don’t slide no more. They reach in and then look behind like, ‘Oh, I thought I had help.‘ There ain’t no help. Keep him in front for 2-3 dribbles, you might have help.”Charles Oakley, via Diamond Leung
Considering Knicks fans went crazy recently after Zion praised MSG and shared his love for playing in NY, it seems this isn’t the best tampering technique from the Knicks legend. He also talked about how Julius Randle is a much better version of Zion and praised the Knicks star. It seems like Oakley thinks Zion is benefiting from the lackluster effort of the defenses he has been facing, as his matchups are letting him go by them too easy and give him a run at the basket that usually results in a bucket, foul, or both.
The simplest solution is to stay in front of him and allow the defense more time to bring help, but that is much easier said than done with Zion’s frame of 6’7” and 284 lbs. The pure muscle and speed make it an impossible task. To add to that, he has an excellent handle and feeling for getting around defenders and avoiding charges. Sure, in the 90’s when the “Big Oak” was playing, Zion would have a more difficult time scoring than today, but with his talent and abilities, I’m pretty sure he would manage himself just fine even back then.