Duke star Zion Williamson has done a lot this season, from 360 dunks, to swatting shots into the second row, to jumping so high he . To this point, he's the clear-cut top prospect in the 2019 NBA Draft class if he chooses to declare.
Now it's simply a matter of staying healthy for the rest of the season before taking his talents to the pro level, which is a risk Hall of Fame hooper Scottie Pippen believes he should mitigate by shutting it down this season and prepping for the draft this summer.
"I think he's locked up the biggest shoe deal, I think he's definitely going to be the No. 1 pick, I think he's done enough for college basketball that it's more about him personally," Pippen said on ESPN's "The Jump." "I would shut it down. I would stop playing because I feel he could risk a major injury that could really hurt his career."
Pippen makes a compelling argument, and considering Williamson's rise up NBA Draft boards, which has been as swift and surprising as his casual windmill dunks in transition, skipping the rest of the season isn't all that wild a proposition. Williamson's played 16 games and averaged 21.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.9 blocks per game while achieving an otherworldly 41.6 PER which leads all of college basketball. There's not much else he could do from now until the end of the season to improve his draft stock or marketability when he turns pro.
But those who watch Williamson closely know there's a next-to-nothing chance he's skipping out to avoid injury. He's one of the hardest-hustling players in the sport, and on top of that, Duke is the favorite to win the national title this season. Without him, the Blue Devils wouldn't be in that spot.
Tracy McGrady and @ScottiePippen don’t agree on whether Zion Williamson is the best player on his Duke team - but regardless, they both think he should stop playing NCAA ball right now, to eliminate the risk of injury before the draft. pic.twitter.com/7Egu42FjfJ— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) January 16, 2019
This discussion could be avoided altogether if college players were able to cash in on their own name and likeness (a discussion for a different day), but for now, this is more of a hot-button topic than a possibility as Duke and its roster stocked full of NBA talent appears to be on a collision course to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.