Fifty-eight games into his career, Zion Williamson has faced a lot of great NBA talent. But there’s one matchup in particular that stood out for the 20-year-old second-year forward.
I’ll start with Carmelo because I loved watching him growing up. Loved watching him play.Zion Williamson, The Old Man and The Three
Zion already talked about modeling his game after Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan. But in terms of active players in today’s NBA, Carmelo was the guy for Williamson, and he couldn’t wait for their first matchup in the NBA.
What I respected most about Melo was, I wanted to see in person how he created his space. It’s always one thing to see it on tape, or when you’re actually playing against, you get to see their footwork and how he utilizes his body, and it’s dope.Zion Williamson, The Old Man and The Three
The first time Zion faced Carmelo was on February 11, 2020. He led the Pelicans to a 138-117 win over the Trail Blazers, scoring a game-high 31 points in 27 minutes of action. Melo finished had 18 for Portland.
However, it wasn’t until their second head-to-head matchup that Williamson witnessed true Carmelo magic happening in front of his very eyes. All it took was one play — a typical Carmelo post-up on the right side.
Jeff – our defensive coach last year – was like, ‘if he goes to drive, let him drive.’ All right, I got you. He like jabs me, I turn. I’m like, ‘oh no, he didn’t go,’ and I turned back fast and he pump-fakes me, I kinda raised, and he either jabbed me again and shot the shot and I was like, ‘man, that was a tough move. I need to try to add that to my bag.’Zion Williamson, The Old Man and The Three
Zion once again led New Orleans to a win with 25 points, dominating his matchup against a 35-year-old Anthony. However, on that play, in particular, a young superstar stood no chance. He got schooled by the one he loved watching the most. And the best part about it; he took it as a lesson — an exclusive opportunity to learn on the spot.
He’s yet to add that specific move to his offensive repertoire. If he can do it down the line, the rest of the league will be in big trouble — as if it isn’t already.