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Thread: Zion back this Thursday January 16th?

  1. #1

    Zion back this Thursday January 16th?


  2. #2
    Possibly, is the answer, as unsatisfying as that might be.
    Tyrese Maxey/Isaac Okoro/Oscar Tshiebwe/Onyeka Okongwu/Nico Mannion endorser.

  3. #3
    This isn't directly related to Zion coming back on Thursday, but I also thought it didn't deserve it's own thread and this is the most recent 'Zion' thread.

    In preparation for his return, which should be Any Day NowTM, I decided to go back and rewatch a bunch of his college games, just to get a refreshed look at him. I haven't watched him play a full game since Pre-Season, so while I remembered that he was great and athletic and dominant and had great touch, etc, some of the details had gone a little hazy in the back of my mind. It's easy to forget greatness when you haven't seen it in a while and so much other basketball has been going on.

    So I picked out a random bunch of games, basically just limited to full games that are easily available on YouTube so that I could have full slow-mo/speed-up control at multiple variables, and I watched 'em. I also took note of their statlines, but along with that I measured a couple of stats that don't actually make it to the box score. Those stats were simple: I measured shots contested (and by that I mean legit contests, not just being stood near the shooter), as well as boxouts, deflections, dunks, and (most importantly for me) potential assists.

    Potential assists has been measured by me as being any pass Zion made directly to somebody to put them in position to score. Most of the time this is him passing out of a double team to a shooter who just missed the shot, but sometimes it's out to a shooter who decided not to shoot for some reason (even if they were open, I guess they just didn't trust themselves to take the shot) or to a shooter who was fouled before being able to put the shot up. Unsurprisingly, he had a LOT of potential assists. Sadly, Duke was just a bad shooting team so a lot of his great passes went unrewarded.

    Here are some of those games. For reference, a team-high for the Pelicans in total contests usually ends up somewhere around 10, the league leaders in deflections per game in the NBA hover around 4 most years, and about 6 boxouts per game will usually lead the league. So that just puts these stats a little more into context.

    Game 1: Duke v Virginia Tech
    Zion Final Line: 23 points, 6 rebounds, 1 ast, 1 steal, 3 blocks. 78.4%FG (11/14)
    Potential Assists: 7
    Deflections: 3
    Dunks: 3
    Boxouts: 4
    2pt Contests: 5
    3pt Contests: 5

    Game 2: Duke v Louisville
    Zion Final Line: 27 points, 12 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block, 60.0%FG (9/15)
    Potential Assists: 6
    Deflections: 3
    Dunks: 0
    Boxouts: 4
    2pt Contests: 6
    3pt Contests: 5

    Game 3: Duke v UCF
    Zion Final Line: 32 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal. 50%FG (12/24)
    Potential Assists: 4
    Deflections: 4
    Dunks: 1
    Boxouts: 6
    2pt Contests: 6
    3pt Contests: 1

    Game 4: Duke v Wake Forest
    Zion Final Line: 30 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, 1 block. 81.3% (13/16)
    Potential Assists: 5
    Deflections: 2
    Dunks: 3
    Boxouts: 4
    2pt Contests: 4
    3pt Contests: 2

    This dude is ridiculous.

    So hype for him coming back soon.

  4. #4
    A Soulful Sports Fan Contributor Eman5805's Avatar
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    That UCF game was one of his most impressive.

  5. #5
    Hall of Famer DarkHornet's Avatar
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    The thing I forgot about his game (lost in the whole "all he does is dunk" BS I was seeing on twitter) is that Zion actually is capable of taking 3s. For some reason, I had it in my head that he had to work inside to have any impact, and it's just not true. I really can't wait to see him on the floor and see what he does in live action.

  6. #6
    I argued this before with the "all he does is dunk" crowd. He really doesn't dunk as often as people think. He can go an entire game, score 30, and not even attempt a dunk.

    Charles Barkley, in all his research, talked about Zion going too hard. If you watch the guy play, he really doesn't. I'll say again he plays like someone who has been playing basketball since they were 5 and wasn't ruined by too much AAU. Zion is not one of these awkward late bloomers. He has way more basketball skills coming into the league than Anthony Davis did.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Pelicanidae View Post
    Sadly, Duke was just a bad shooting team so a lot of his great passes went unrewarded.
    Well, sad for Zion and his stat line, but not so much for the Duke-hating public at large.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyman View Post
    I argued this before with the "all he does is dunk" crowd. He really doesn't dunk as often as people think. He can go an entire game, score 30, and not even attempt a dunk.

    Charles Barkley, in all his research, talked about Zion going too hard. If you watch the guy play, he really doesn't. I'll say again he plays like someone who has been playing basketball since they were 5 and wasn't ruined by too much AAU. Zion is not one of these awkward late bloomers. He has way more basketball skills coming into the league than Anthony Davis did.
    This.

    I can tell hes played basketball since he was 4-5 by how compact his ball handling is in the halfcourt.

    Zion versus Pitt was also a good game just to watch him play.

  9. #9
    A Soulful Sports Fan Contributor Eman5805's Avatar
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    That’s his greatest asset. His low handle and ball control. He knives through defenses and if you collapse on him, he finds the open man. If you come soft he’ll score. And if you come strong, he may still score, but will almost certainly get to the line. And if he does miss, our other players would need to be asleep to not crash in and clean up.

    These are things he’ll do right now. As a raw(ish) rookie. Nevermind once he starts to evolve his game. Dunking will be the least deadly thing he does to teams.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by DarkHornet View Post
    The thing I forgot about his game (lost in the whole "all he does is dunk" BS I was seeing on twitter) is that Zion actually is capable of taking 3s. For some reason, I had it in my head that he had to work inside to have any impact, and it's just not true. I really can't wait to see him on the floor and see what he does in live action.
    Absolutely. I've been talking about this since before the draft

    Basically, Zion shot horrifically badly over his first 12 games or so. About 17% from 3. It was bad. And that terrible start to the year depressed his 3pt shooting numbers for the rest of the season.

    But if you look at his progression it's easy to see that he was a pretty decent 3pt shooter overall. In his final 7 games (tournament play) he shot 43.5% from 3 on more than 3 attempts per game. That's legitimately good. And if you look at his final 15 games, you get 41.2% from 3 on 2.3 attempts per game.

    He's not going to be a sniper in the NBA, at least not year one, and he won't be doing it on super high volume: his release is a little awkward and way too slow to it to be his primary weapon. But if you leave him alone on the perimeter, he is perfectly willing to shoot it and is perfectly capable of hitting them. He's not a Ben Simmons

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyman View Post
    I argued this before with the "all he does is dunk" crowd. He really doesn't dunk as often as people think. He can go an entire game, score 30, and not even attempt a dunk.

    Charles Barkley, in all his research, talked about Zion going too hard. If you watch the guy play, he really doesn't. I'll say again he plays like someone who has been playing basketball since they were 5 and wasn't ruined by too much AAU. Zion is not one of these awkward late bloomers. He has way more basketball skills coming into the league than Anthony Davis did.
    Absolutely true. It really stuck out to me when I was rewatching these games. He does have highlight dunks, of course, we've all seen them, but he tends to do those either in transition or when he catches the defense sleeping and is soaring in from somewhere to catch a lob or a putback. When he's actually generating his own shot, he's far more likely to go for a layup off the glass or a scoop shot, both of which he's elite at even when contested.

    Agreed as well. He's a rookie and only 19 so he obviously has a lot of growth to go through before he reaches his peak, but he's not walking into the NBA a project. This dude will be able to play and make an impact immediately: he is good at basketball, and people should never underrate that.

  12. #12
    I took a look at Zion's college stats, to have a kind of rough predictor of what his NBA stats this season might look like (I know, a fool's errand).

    In college he averaged 22.6 points per game on 70.2%TS, and put up 3.9%STL and 5.8%BLK.

    I said okay, well what if at the NBA level he put up something like, say, 17ppg on 65%TS with 2%STL and 2%BLK? That's impressive, certainly, but I didn't think it would be breaking any records. So I threw those into Basketball Reference to see how many players in NBA history had done that in a season before. I expected a fair number of results: 17ppg is a lot but not elite, 65%TS is a lot but a lot of players have been dunk machines, and while 2%STL and 2%BLK are both very good numbers they're not really ''lead the league'' territory.

    So here's the full list of players to ever do that at least once in a season:

    - Charles Barkley

    That's it, that's the list.

    So I lowered it. What about 15ppg on 60%TS with 2%STL and 1.5%BLK? Here's the list

    - Charles Barkley x2
    - Anthony Davis x2
    - James Harden x4
    - Lebron James x3
    - Bobby Jones
    - Michael Jordan x2
    - Kawhi Leonard x2
    - David Robinson
    - Metta World Peace (only 291 minutes played)

    That's a pretty bonkers list, and I thought I was being semi-reasonable

  13. #13
    Pistol Pete Would Be Proud!!
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    Going to sleep seemed to get their attention


  14. #14
    That's meditation, homes.
    You ain't about this life. You eat with a knife and fork. I eat with my bare hands.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by 13 - 3 View Post
    Going to sleep seemed to get their attention

    Nah. He was praying that he would get into the game Thursday.

  16. #16
    Couple more Zion games watched, hustle plays/none-box-score-things counted up.

    Game 5: Duke v Notre Dame
    Zion’s Final Line:
    26 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 4 blocks. 83.3% (10/12)
    Potential Assists: 11
    Deflections: 2
    Dunks: 0
    Boxouts: 6
    2pt Contests: 5
    3pt Contests: 2

    Game 6: Duke v Syracuse
    Zion’s Final Line:
    35 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 4 blocks. 60.0% (12/20)
    Potential Assists: 7
    Deflections: 2
    Dunks: 1
    Boxouts: 5
    2pt Contests: 6
    3pt Contests: 3

    Game 7: Duke v Boston College
    Zion’s Final Line:
    16 points, 17 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals, 3 blocks. 58.3% (7/12)
    Potential Assists: 3
    Deflections: 2
    Dunks: 0
    Boxouts: 6
    2pt Contests: 4
    3pt Contests: 1

    Again, 3 games here, 1 dunk total. This idea that many people have (not on this board btw, just in general) that Zion scores everything on dunks is completely divorced from reality. Does he dunk? Of course he does, and it's spectacular when he does, but he can go entire games without dunking and still put up 26 points on 10/12 shooting.

    Essentially, across the 7 games I've watched and gathered this data from (a little over 20% of Zion's college games), he's averaged (per game)
    6 Potential Assists
    3 Deflections
    1.12 dunks
    5 boxouts
    7.9 shot contests


    Those are extremely encouraging numbers. Glad to have spent some time get reacquainted with his game too, he's so fun to watch. His on-ball/point-of-attack defense is so impressive, and that will translate immediately even if the off-ball stuff takes time. There are moments where he kind of goes inactive, particularly when it comes to off-ball defense, and those generally come when Duke was up 20 points or something. Crunch time though? When games get close, the motor revs up and in a bunch of these games it was when the score was tightest that he played at his best. The only exception, I think, would be the Syracuse game, where he played 44 minutes and was clearly gassed by the end of it: that was the game that Cam Reddish missed and Tre Jones left with injury 6 minutes in.

    Those 6 potential assists per game are what entice me the most. In college, he was whipping these great passes out to guys like Jack White (27.8% 3pt shooter), RJ Barrett (30.8%), Cam Reddish (33.3%) and Tre Jones (26.2%). In our games, in the NBA, these passes will be going to guys like JJ Redick, Brandon Ingram, E'twaun Moore; guys that can actually shoot C&S jumpers. He could easily average 4.5, 5 assists per game at the NBA level without even improving his playmaking skills at all, and when he does improve in that area? Could be truly special.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Wowowowow View Post
    This.

    I can tell he’s played basketball since he was 4-5 by how compact his ball handling is in the halfcourt.

    Zion versus Pitt was also a good game just to watch him play.
    You're right, that's a great game. Just did a rewatch of that one as well.

    Duke v Pitt
    Zion’s Final Line:
    25 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, 1 block. 84.6%FG (11/13)
    Potential Assists: 9
    Deflections: 2
    Dunks: 2
    Boxouts: 3
    2pt Contests: 6
    3pt Contests: 1

    I think this is also a fantastic example of something that happens a lot in Zion's games. While yes, he does put up pretty solid contest numbers, they're nothing crazy for a guy who so obviously is interested in defending on ball (hence the high steal/block rates along with deflections). Why is that? Well, it's simple: a lot of guys will, when Zion gets switched on to them, simply refuse to take a shot. This is the best possible outcome of all defense, better than any contest or block. Guys get switched onto Zion, think about his lateral quickness, his good hands, his strength, his athleticism, his low foul rate (he registered more steals than fouls at Duke total) and they just say ''...nah, not today'' and pass it away.

  18. #18
    I'm just gonna say it...Lebron and Zion in the dunk contest would probably be the most watched television event in the last 50 years.

    But it wont happen because too many ignorant people labeling Zion as strictly a dunker. They did the same to LeBron early which is why he's avoided the contest forever.

    Stupid people.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyman View Post
    I'm just gonna say it...Lebron and Zion in the dunk contest would probably be the most watched television event in the last 50 years.

    But it wont happen because too many ignorant people labeling Zion as strictly a dunker. They did the same to LeBron early which is why he's avoided the contest forever.

    Stupid people.
    You're probably right but there are just so many obstacles.

    If Lebron wasn't going to do it when he was 29, years after proving he was more than just a dunker, he's not gonna do it at 35 when his athleticism is in clear decline.

    Zion coming off an injury so soon before all-star weekend means he probably won't be cleared by the team to participate in extra-curriculars like that.

    NBA itself seems to recognise that they're short on new talent to put in the dunk contest so that's probably why they're trying to get Dwight to return somehow despite him not being a particularly impressive leaper anymore. They could always try and get Jax to participate though, he's great. He can do a between the legs from the FT line

  20. #20
    Pistol Pete Would Be Proud!!
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    im just glad to be able to see my team star rookie play in a nba game this season because im tired of seeing morant show out this season knowing i wanted us to pick him over zion...

  21. #21
    The Game Thread Starter j_bones's Avatar
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    Any official word on whether Zion will be making his debut tomorrow? I'm waiting for a bleacher report / ZSPN notification on my phone as I'm definite they'll want to televise the game.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by j_bones View Post
    Any official word on whether Zion will be making his debut tomorrow? I'm waiting for a bleacher report / ZSPN notification on my phone as I'm definite they'll want to televise the game.

    LESPN just put out a piece on Get Up (I saw via YouTube) that he's expected to play tomorrow.

    And another reporter also said a few days ago that Zion will not necessarily be on a minutes restriction. They will play him in 5/6 minutes at a time and see how he does.

    Don't know whether to call that official or not.

  23. #23
    Charter Member PELICANSFAN's Avatar
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    When does the injury report come out?

  24. #24
    Season ticket holders about to get what they paid for?!?!
    Actual proof Greivis Vasquez can throw Anthony Davis an Alley-OOP on an (kinda) fastbreak!


  25. #25
    The Franchise Creative's Avatar
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    Come on Griffin - let Zion dance !

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