In an era in which more and more players come into the NBA labeled as three-point shooters, Zion Williamson has proved to be a breath of fresh air, dominating in the paint the old-school way. Unfortunately for Zion, it has led to him bumping and fighting with other NBA big men on a nightly basis, causing significant wear and tear on that massive frame. It seems the rest of his season is in serious doubt, as the Pelicans announced Zion had suffered a fractured left ring finger, sidelining him indefinitely.
Pelicans GM David Griffin wasn’t too happy with his star player going down with an injury, as he blasted the NBA referees for allowing Zion to take too much damage from his opponents:
“I’m really frustrated because this was avoidable. We told the NBA through every means available to us, through sending in film, through speaking to everybody in the officials department, everybody in basketball operations that the way they were officiating Zion was going to get him injured. Quite frankly, he’s injured because of the open season that there’s been on Zion Williamson in the paint. He has been absolutely mauled in the paint on a regular basis to the point where other players have said to him, ‘I’m going to keep doing this to you’ because they don’t call it.There is more violence encouraged in the paint than any player I’ve seen since Shaq. It was egregious and horrific then. The same is true now.”David Griffin, via Nola.com
At 6’7” and 284 lbs, Zion has just been overpowering everybody on his way to the rim, causing his opponents to play very psychical defense and hacking in order to slow him down. As a result, the referees have started to give his defenders the benefit of the doubt, resulting in numerous no-calls on Zion because of his sheer ability to score many times through the contact and foul. He is fourth in free-throw attempts in the NBA with 8.7 per game, but he would have led the league by a landslide if he got all the calls he deserves. He has already achieved the status of being so good you have to let his opponents get away with fouls at times.
A situation many would compare and say they seen last was when Shaquille O’Neal was dominating the NBA. The talk about Shaq was that he was impossible to referee because the only way to contain a 7’1”, 325 lbs monster is with a lot of contact and hand action. You could have called a foul every single possession, but that would break the game. As a result, Shaq knew his defenders had the freedom to hit him and get away a lot of the time, but it didn’t matter as he would still get his numbers and dominate the game, just like Zion is today. Just another reason Zion is being called the Shaq of today’s NBA. Hopefully, referees take more action and protect the young star from more injuries in the future.