Zion Williamson is the most talked about NBA prospect since LeBron James. When LeBron stepped on the scene out of high school, it didn't take him long to live up to the hype, but how will Zion fare when he gets his crack at the NBA?
We asked our NBA.com experts where they think Zion will be in five years:
Micah Adams (@ MicahAdams13 ) : He'll be a 1st-Team All-NBA player. Depending on the team and players around him, he could already be an MVP.
15 different players in NBA history won an MVP award within their first five seasons, though only three - Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan and Derrick Rose - within the last 30 years. LeBron James and Stephen Curry both won their first one in their sixth season.
All of that is to say that five years is more than enough time for the cream to rise to the top. I expect him to be a major impact player from Day 1 on both ends of the ball and given the age of some other current top players, it's not too much of a stretch to imagine a world where five years from now, Williamson is right there alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo as THE face of the league.
He's that special.
Carlan Gay ( @TheCarlanGay ): I've done a complete 180 on Zion. Prior to his freshman year at Duke, I was as skeptical as one could be about a top college prospect - I'm all in now.
He's going to captivate audiences all over the world with his highlight reel dunks and blocks, but underneath all that he'll be honing his skills to become an all-around talent.
By then, there won't be questions surrounding whether or not he can hit a jump shot or if he can be the go-to-guy on an NBA roster, but rather how many championships can he truly win.
It took LeBron and Kobe four seasons to get to their first Finals. It took MJ seven and Giannis could potentially reach the Finals this year in his sixth season.
I see Zion having the same quick rise as Kobe and LeBron did in terms of getting to a Final within the first five years of his career.
Five years from now, Zion will be a top-three player in the league and the next five years after that he'll be packing his trophy case with MVPs and championship rings if he hasn't already started winning those by then.
Gilbert McGregor (@ GMcGregor21 ): Zion is as cant-miss of a prospect as there has ever been, but let's reel it in just a bit.
By the end of Year 5, Williamson will most certainly have a Rookie of the Year award in his trophy case and his high-flying dunks and larger-than-life persona will make him a fan favourite and perennial All-Star by his third season at the latest.
The team success and big-time league honours, however, will take some time.
How much time? Just a bit longer than five years.
As a forward, there are a number of big names that the young Williamson will have to contend with to earn All-NBA honours, but he is special enough to earn a selection or two by the end of his fifth season.
I can't see the MVP conversation starting up until he's at least 25-years-old, which would be Year 6 for the 19-year-old.
Hype aside, I see Zion's path to be slightly similar to that of LeBron, who did not make it to the postseason until Year 3. While LeBron led his team to the Finals the very next year, he needed to put on one of the greatest performances in NBA history for him to do so, and he would not return to that stage for another four years.
By Year 5, I can see Zion heading a serious contender to represent the conference in the NBA Finals, but those trips to the biggest stage won't come until Year 6 and onward.
Kyle Irving ( @KyleIrv_ ): Zion will be a stud in the NBA, there isn't a doubt in my mind about it.
But I'm not ready to say he'll be a top-five player in the league or a First Team All-NBA talent or competing for an MVP within the first five years of his career just yet.
Do I think Williamson will win Rookie of the Year next season? Yes.
Do I think Williamson could be a five-time All-Star in five years? Yes.
I'd even go as far to say he will definitely make at least three All-Star games in the first five years of his career. If he ends up with the right supporting cast, he'll be able to lead a team to the playoffs in Year 2.
But players like Giannis Antetokounmpo are just getting started and Kevin Durant doesn't look to be trending downward any time soon. Those are just two players Zion will be competing against in years to come for All-NBA honours and MVP honours.
I believe Williamson will at some point in his career be an MVP, an NBA Champion, First Team All-NBA, hell, maybe even a Defensive Player of the Year, too. But I'm not going to say he'll be any of the above in his first five years in the league until I see this kid competing against NBA-level talent.
Yash Matange ( @yashmatange2694 ): So much of where Zion would be in five years depends on which team drafts him and how that franchise assembles the roster around him.
Individually, over the next five years, there's no doubt about the fact that barring injuries, Zion would be a household name from an in-game entertainment standpoint with his dunks, chase down blocks and so forth.
In five years, I see him being the face of the league with a couple or even three All-Star selections to his name (based on which conference he is drafted into), putting up huge numbers and filling up stands in the arenas (home and road).
These first five years of Zion's career will see him grow on and off the court. The growth that every all-time player, irrespective of the state of their franchise, undergoes before they begin to take over the league and start competing for MVPs and championships.
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