New Orleans Pelicans: 5 reasons Zion Williamson is a no-brainer at No. 1

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images /
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Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images /

4. Zion Williamson is the best defensive player in the draft

The reason Zion Williamson is a generational talent is the fact that not only is he the best offensive player in the draft, he is the draft’s best defensive player as well. Williamson is absolutely devastating on the defensive end.

His size and strength allow Zion to reasonably guard any big in the NBA; only Boban Marjanovic weighs more than Williamson’s listed 285 pounds, and it’s hard to imagine even the league’s burliest centers moving him inside. Deploying him as a small-ball 5 wouldn’t sacrifice a team’s post defense in any appreciable sense.

There may also be little-to-no loss in rim protection either, as Williamson’s explosion and instincts made him a terror around the basket as he averaged 1.8 blocks per game. Opponents would commonly pull up short or rush shots when they sensed Williamson close. Paired with his quick hands he was a frequent generator of impact plays on defense, averaging 2.1 steals per game and often sparking transition opportunities going the other way.

Add in Williamson’s strong rebounding and he has myriad ways of ending opponents’ possessions with either a block, steal or rebound (8.9 per game). His versatility would make him a perfect fit in a switching scheme or as a weak-side shot-blocker. He will need to improve in space as an isolation defender, and he will always give up height to opposing centers when playing the 5, but overall he is a force on defense.