With the NBA Draft Lottery this upcoming Tuesday night, we’re just days away from finding out which lucky franchise will win the chance to select perhaps college basketball’s biggest star since the turn of the century. We all know Zion would fit in pretty much anywhere, but which teams offer the Duke one-and-done the best chance to thrive in the pros? Here are the best—and worst—NBA landing spots for Zion Williamson:
While the Suns have two formidable offensive weapons in Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton, that talent has yet to translate to wins in the standings. Despite three consecutive top-five draft picks, Phoenix has yet to top 24 wins since their 2014-15 campaign and finished this past season 19-63. So why would the Suns be an ideal landing spot for last season's consensus national player of the year?
For one, Booker and Ayton are the perfect complements for Williamson to avoid the double-teams that regularly followed him in Durham, offensive talent that many other lottery teams this year simply do not have. Zion’s intensity—both offensively and especially defensively—would be perfect in transforming a franchise struggling to turn its talent into victories. Not to mention the abundance of potential playing time, as Mikal Bridges and Dragan Bender aren’t exactly the toughest players to beat out at the power forward position.
The Wizards may not have the best odds to win the lottery like Phoenix, but a nine percent chance makes Washington a more than realistic landing spot for Zion. This team finished off a run of four playoff appearances in five seasons just a year ago, yet a complete lack of depth behind John Wall and Bradley Beal has turned the Wizards from postseason contender into lottery hopeful.
However, it is well-known that Washington boasts one of the best backcourt duos in the NBA, though Wall could be sidelined until next February. What the Wizards lack is a frontcourt that can battle down low with other NBA big men. Insert Zion Williamson. If Washington decides to keep Wall and Beal around for next year and beyond, the Spartanburg, S.C. native could be the perfect third star to quickly morph the Wizards back into an Eastern Conference contender. And even if the franchise moves on from its two All-Stars, Zion would be the next face for a new era of basketball in the District of Columbia.
New York Knicks
Trust me, I’m not a Knicks fan trying to write my year-long dream into reality. Yes, New York has been dysfunctional for nearly this entire century, but I am a firm believer that Zion can turn any team he joins into a winner. And for a kid who enjoys the bright lights, the Big Apple offers him the brightest.
The Knicks landing a star in free agency would make this an even more ideal spot for Zion. But even if GM Scott Perry fails to sign a player like Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant, New York’s other young talent is nothing to scoff at. Dennis Smith Jr. and Kevin Knox have the potential to become very good players in this league, and the addition of Zion could even be enough to push this Knicks team into the playoffs next year without any other major offseason additions.
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Would the Bulls benefit from adding Zion Williamson to their roster? Of course, any team would. But for a team already stacked with young frontcourt talent, there are simply better landing spots out there for the National Player of the Year. If Chicago secures the No. 1 pick Tuesday night and selects Williamson this upcoming June, they would likely try to slide him in at small forward next to Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr., a position that cause some problems in Williamson's game.
Perhaps once Zion improves his inconsistent handles and outside jumper, he can play the three. For now however, Williamson is a four, the position that maximizes his elite athleticism and touch around the rim.
While the Knicks may lack the current supporting cast to make themselves an optimal landing spot for Zion, they make up for that absence of talent in marketing and exposure. The Cleveland Cavaliers, meanwhile, offer the worst of both worlds. Cleveland’s roster is still clearly in the awkward transition between LeBron James’ NBA Finals squad and full-out rebuild. They currently pay the duo of Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson a combined $47 million this upcoming season, and Love is locked up until after 2023 with his bloated salary making him an unappealing trade candidate as well.
Zion would be able to lead the team from his first day in Quicken Loans arena, but probably wouldn't enjoy the lack of talent around him.