It was the 2019 draft and no matter what was happening, the Pelicans knew who they were taking. Zion Williams was drafted #1 overall as expected and hasn’t done much since. The player who was compared to LeBron James is now getting called out by a former teammate due to his on and off the court skills that former Pelican JJ Redick was talking about. On the other hand, Ja Morant, the 2nd overall pick in that draft to Memphis, won rookie of the year that season and has now started in the All Star game because he is the best player on a top 3 team in the NBA (by record). Below is how everyone has been wrong so far about Zion’s play and how it was apparently much better than Ja’s!
Every single draft class, there’s that 1 player everyone can’t stop talking about. Expect this time, they actually couldn’t. Zion Williamson was the most hyped up prospect since LeBron James…16 years earlier. He was one of the most hyped up prospects of all time because of his talent and flashy skills. He is still the popular player a lot of casual fans talk about. But, there are always going to be underdogs, people that prove you and others wrong. Ja Morant did that!
Morant, 22, has had great success with the Grizzlies. He was 1 game away in 2020 from taking a Grizzlies team that was supposed to be one of the worst teams in the league into a playoff spot. He also won rookie of the year that season. In 2021, he led the Grizzlies to the playoffs with the 8th seed. This season, Ja Morant was named to his 1st all star team by averaging 27, 7 and 6 per game. 6 rebounds is also very impressive for a 6’3 guard. He has also led the Grizzlies to a 41-19 record, putting them with the best in the league. Jayson Williams of ESPN predicts them to make the NBA finals this year out of a very tough Western Conference!
Williamson, 21, has not lived up to the hype. He played only 24 games in his rookie season due to a knee injury. Despite some success that season in the games played including an All-Rookie 1st team appearance, he went 11-13 in those games as New Orleans finished with the 13th seed in the Western Conference. In his 2nd season, he played pretty well. In 61 games, he averaged 27 points and 7 rebounds per game while making his 1st All Star team, before Ja. However, the Pelicans didn’t even have a chance to make the playoffs in the play-in game. They finished with the 11th seed in the Western Conference. This season, Williamson has been sidelined with a fractured foot. JJ Redick, Zion’s former teammate, called him out for being unattached from the team and not reaching out to C.J McCollum when he was traded to New Orleans. Zion, according to ESPN’s Malika Andrews, has now reached out to McCollum after McCollum said he heard nothing from him.
Clearly for Zion, the talent’s there. He was the #1 overall pick for a reason. However, we can’t see that talent a lot since he continues to get injured and when he is on the floor, it doesn’t translate to wins for his team. Zion has played 85 games in his career and has won 40 of them, a just over 47% win percentage. Morant on the other hand, has played 176 games and has won 95 of them, very close to a 54% win percentage, much better than Zion’s. Both the Grizzlies and the Pelicans have similar talent. If anything, the Pelicans have better talent! Ja helps his team win more and that is the main aspect of the game.
Zion’s talent is great. His winning is not. And in general, the point of a sports team is to win. I’m not sure New Orleans can do that with Zion. In 2020, he didn’t play a lot. When he got into the bubble, he was accused of being overweight for an athlete to many individuals. In 2021, he continued to be a fun player to watch but didn’t help his team win. This season, he hasn’t played and has called out by a former teammate who he had no bad relationship with. Now, we’re talking about Zion trades! I want to see Zion succeed. To me, it would be fun to watch a player dunk all over people at around 6’6 and also be winning games. But he hasn’t proved that. And the quiet, also 3rd year player, Ja Morant is leading his team to championship territory. Everyone was wrong!
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