The day before the Los Angeles Lakers suffered a blowout loss at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers in Philly, LeBron James jetted down to Charlottesville, Virginia to sit courtside and watch Duke’s squad of fabulous freshman take down the Virginia Cavaliers.
Though both Cam Reddish and RJ Barrett are ridiculously talented in their own right, James’ eye was trained on Zion Williamson, who many predict will be the top pick in the upcoming 2019 NBA Draft. Williamson has evoked plenty of comparisons to James, as their ability to move with grace while hauling around an enormous frame is something you don’t see very often.
But James, speaking to ESPN from Charlotte ahead of the NBA’s All-Star Weekend festivities, says Williamson is on another level physically.
“What strikes me? His agility and his quickness,” James said. “For his size, how strong he is, to be able to move like the way he moves, he’s very impressive. I mean, everybody can see the athleticism. That’s obviously, that’s ridiculous. But the speed and the quickness that he moves [with] at that size is very impressive.”
But it’s not just Williamson’s physical gifts that have impressed James. It’s Williamson’s maturity level that sticks out to him to him the most, and where James sees a little bit of his younger self.
“I can relate in a sense of he’s been covered since he was in high school and everybody is trying to compare him to the next this or the next that. But the best thing I’ve noticed is he seems like a good kid. He seems like he’s got his head on straight,” James said. “And when they asked him about, you know, guys in our league and people who cover our league talking about, ‘If I was Zion Williamson, I would sit out for the rest of the year,’ he was like, ‘That’s [silly]. Why? I’m here to play basketball. I love to play basketball. I’m here at Duke, I’m having fun. These are my friends. I’m having a great time. Why would I sit out?’
“That’s the type of s— that strikes me. Everybody gets so caught up in the game itself. I look at the intangibles. And he seems like he has great intangibles and seems like a great kid.”
The comparisons to James will continue for Williamson as he moves through the draft process, and will only increase in volume should the Cleveland Cavaliers win the Draft Lottery and select the Duke phenom. If people had questions about how Williamson’s game will fit at the next level, James’ comments should go a long way to quelling them.