The first game of college basketball has been played and by all accounts, the Warriors have competition in “The most dominant force in basketball” category. The Blue Devils won against Wildcats 118 – 84. Above all else, this years season will be about the top 3 draft picks playing on the same team. All mock drafts have Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett going as the first two picks and Cam Reddish finishing up the top 3.
Before the season everyone saw Duke as the dominant force in college basketball but we weren’t sure how much better are they than the rest of the field. Now we know. They are about 34 points better. Kentucky is the second-ranked team in all of college basketball. This was as if the Warriors sweep Houston/Toronto/Boston/whoever-you-have-second with an average of 30 points. Wrap your mind around that.
Alongside a criminal system of recruiting (FBI investigations pending), exploitation of young athletes and a total lack of organized basketball (due to the one-and-done trend), that is why in all honesty I don’t watch or care about college basketball. This year I will pay attention exclusively to watch these guys play. Especially Zion and R.J. Barrett. So, who are they and what’s all the hype about?
R.J. is a native of Missausaga, Ontario (born in Toronto). He is 6’7, 200 lbs and listed as a small forward. Basically, R.J. was MVP of everywhere he showed up, most recently the 2018 Nike Hoops Summit. He was the no.1 recruit on almost every board due to his skill level at such an early age. His game has been compared to DeMar DeRozan and James Harden (just needs to improve his 3 pointers and the comparison is as good as gold). You don’t think of Harden as a top athlete (compared to LeBron or Westbrook) but he is extremely agile in tight spaces and has a very quick deceleration. That ability to stop very quickly helps him with his herky-jerky game and R.J. showed the same qualities last night.
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First of all, that’s a great fuc—- name. Sorry, wouldn’t do him justice without it. When you read about Zion the first thing you will see is physicality/athleticism/strength. Above all else, Zion is a physical freak of nature. He comes from Salisbury, North Carolina and is listed at 6’7 and 285 lbs and plays the power forward position. Nope, not a type-o. 285 pounds!!!!!! To put it into perspective, he and R.J. are the same height, yet Zion is 85 pounds heavier. Here’s the cover photo again, look at the difference in size.
What truly makes him special is his speed, agility and feel for the game at such measurements. He flies on dunks, is light on his feet and can finish around the rim. After the game, Jay Williams compared him to a mix of Charles Barkley and Dominique Wilkins (also pointed out Zion is 5 pounds heavier than Boban who is 7’3). Zion is a walking mismatch, put a forward on him, he will bully the poor fella in the post. Put a heavier guy on him and he will dance around him.
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Who will go first?
Hold your horses. This was just game one, we have a long way to go. Need I remind you that before the 2015 Draft, Jahil Okafor was the projected 1st pick in front of Karl-Anthony Towns. R.J. and Zion are both better than Okafor at that stage of his career, but let’s let the season play out. After that, we need to know who is picking where. With two players of such potential, fit will play a role so the lottery balls will have an influence as well.
This is more of a pick-your-poison discussion. Skill vs power (and take into account the skilled guy is athletic and the strong guy has moves). During this article I changed my mind 5 times. All I know, whoever has the second pick in the 2019 Draft will have the easiest job in NBA that night.