kevin durant talks about zion williamson

Durant calls rookie Zion Williamson “one of one” for his athleticism

October 18, 2022

As much as any significant player in the NBA right now, Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant studied the game and its history. That’s why calling rookie forward Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans a “one of one” prospect says a lot about the caliber of potential he thinks the 22-year-old has.

After Monday’s practice, Durant said, “You’ve seen players that big, 6-7, that can get up and down the court and move, but not at that level.” “You’ve seen guys like Jason Maxiell—I’m not saying they jump as high as Zion—but they were undersized guys that played bigger, and Zion’s one of those guys. Rodney Rogers—I’m lacking so many guys that were that tall at 6-6, Charles Barkley bruiser-type guys, but they played bigger. But Zion’s athleticism trumps all of theirs by a distance, and when you add that to the mix, it makes him a one-of-one.

In their first regular-season game on Wednesday night at Barclays Center, the Nets take on Williamson and the Pelicans. Williamson hasn’t played since May 4, 2021, and missed the whole 2021–22 season due to a right foot ailment, but Durant still anticipates top-caliber performance from Williamson.

Williamson being back on the court caused excitement, according to Durant. It will be exciting when guys get healthy, especially the marquee players in this league. “Athleticism, someone that can put up points pretty quickly. Many people have a matchup problem, so we got our work cut out [with] him. And then you got two other scorers behind him [in Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum], who can score from all levels.

Williamson injured his left ankle against the Miami Heat on Wednesday, but he said he was good after the game. Williamson was restricted in practice on Sunday and was not allowed to play in the Pelicans’ last preseason game on Friday.

Williamson completed a full practice on Monday before responding when asked whether he would be available for the first game of the year, “Oh, I’m playing Wednesday.”

The previous two days of practice have been rigorous, but I didn’t get to train thoroughly [Sunday] since they were taking precautions, said Williamson. We have developed a stronger sense of teamwork, and I believe we are prepared for the season.

The Pelicans’ practice on Monday was one of just a handful since the start of camp, where the expected starting five — Williamson, Ingram, McCollum, Jonas Valanciunas, and Herb Jones — were all fully healthy.

Williamson remarked, “I believe that was incredibly crucial for us. We had a great practice; it was difficult. I’m looking forward to Wednesday because you don’t want just to enter the first game feeling unfamiliar.

To their credit, the Nets had begun preparing for the possibility that he may play on Wednesday.

Nets coach Steve Nash said, “I assume there is some trickiness about it — which Zion do you get? We have to be ready. We can’t expect anything less than his best, or we’ll be surprised, and we’ll be second, and when you’re reactive, you’re in trouble. But I think you’d be foolish not to expect an exceptional player. He’s so talented and gifted. He causes problems for everyone, no matter, I think, what state his body and game are in. He’s still such a unique athlete and player.


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