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ESPN ranked Zion Williamson 42nd in their top 100 NBA Players, and he hasn't even played in an NBA game yet. That's far and away the highest ranking a rookie entering the league has ever got. The previous high was a tie between D'Angelo Russell and Anthony Davis' rookie year, where they ranked 62nd coming into their rookie debuts.
So the hype is very vaulted for Zion; expectations are higher on this guy than really any rookie entering the game since Lebron. Actually I'm not sure why Lebron didn't show on this ESPN list, maybe they weren't doing the ranking back in '03?
Anyways, ESPN already considers Zion to be better than Klay Thompson, who came in at #46. And I think that's where it gets tricky. Saying 42nd maybe doesn't sound too crazy until you start looking at the players he would rank higher than. Being above Klay Thompson without ever playing a game after what Klay has done in his career?? I'm not there just yet.
But of course this ranking is based on overall skill set, what he brings to the table for his new team the Pelicans, and what projection models say he can accomplish in his first year. That all will depend on how well the Pelicans gel this year.
Lots of new players - Zion of course, then Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram from the Lakers trade. Then JJ Redick. Jrue Holiday remains at guard, Jaxson Hayes at center, Derrick Favors as the power forward and Jahlil Okafor as the other center.. they have some promise as a young team.
I would say there is possibly enough solid, supporting talent but not super star talent on this team as is for Zion to find his niche and become the true superstar everyone is expecting. It's possible. Problem is the Pelicans were one of the worst teams last year and they play in the super staked West. But now they have basically a brand new starting new line up and walked away from Davis, in hopes that Zion is even better.
Where would you rank Zion today of all the NBA players? And then we can keep this thread going after his first year and beyond to see if the number goes way up OR way down.
I would say he should be in the top 100, but probably in the 60's or 70's. Rookies gotta show something first.