Con: We won’t get to see Zion and AD play together
In the wake of New Orleans winning the draft lottery, much of basketball world buzzed about the potential of a Zion-AD duo. Both have the size, skill and versatility to make any lineup featuring the two dominant on both ends of the floor.
Davis spent most of his time last season playing alongside big men Nikola Mirotic, a stretch-4, and Julius Randle, a bowling ball-shaped force of nature. The Davis-Mirotic duo posted a +5.8 net rating in over 500 minutes and the Davis-Randle pairing posted a similarly excellent +4.4 mark in over 1,000 minutes together — all of this for a team that finished 33-49 and often had less than eight NBA-caliber players at any one time.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Zion is already better than Mirotic and Randle — both good players in their own right. Randle and Mirotic are not good defensively, and despite their offensive talents, neither is a particularly well-rounded player. Zion has Randle’s physicality, but shoots the ball better than Randle ever could.
Combined with his defensive abilities to routinely do things like this and it’s easy to see how much AD could benefit from a fellow transcendent big man next to him.
Zion would benefit even more from the pairing. While Williamson did not take measurements at the NBA Draft Combine in May, his Duke measurements show he is undersized — even if he is a jaw-droppingly gifted athlete. He’s 6’7” with about a 6’10” wingspan and a 8’7” standing reach, all below-average for most forwards in the league, let alone centers, where Zion may see some time in small-ball lineups.
Playing next to someone Davis’ size would make Zion’s defensive duties much simpler. Davis could protect the rim and Zion would be free to roam, making Draymond Green-esque plays.
Offensively, the one thing lacking in Zion’s game at the moment is his jumper (he shot just 33.8 percent from the shortened 3-point distance in college). Davis has shot above 33 percent from 3 in each of the past two seasons, and while he will never be a knockdown shooter, he needs to be respected — opening up the floor for Zion to drive the lane with the force of a Mack Truck.
This doesn’t even touch on AD-Zion pick-and-rolls, which could be the stuff of legend. AD is too long for most 4s and Zion too fast for most 5s, so any switching if one screens for the other would leave defenses scrambling.