There is a lot for fantasy GMs to unpack when a player is injured. We need to not only understand the severity of the injury, how long they might be out, but also restrictions in their play once they return. For dynasty GMs, we need to understand how this injury may affect them long term.
We are lucky to have, Dr. Rajpal Brar on board and providing injury analysis with his medical expertise. This video is concerning Duke Power Forward Zion Williamson and his right knee sprain. Take a look.
Due to his otherworldly athleticism and strength for a teenager, the hype for Zion was strong heading into the NCAA season. It exploded within minutes of his first game for Duke, showing off not only the touted athleticism but a more well-rounded and polished game than anyone expected. Since then, he has solidified his place as the clear cut first pick in the upcoming draft.
The injury, which took place in the opening minutes of a very high-profile game against ACC rival, UNC, saw Zion step with his left foot and have his shoe give out. This slide led to a very awkward movement from his right knee, which led to what Raj believes to be a Grade 1 MCL sprain. Dr. Brar focuses on the inward drop that the knee takes at that moment (known as the Valgus moment), and stretched out the inner ligaments of the knee. All things considered, this is a best case scenario as he’s listed day-to-day, and normally the return from injuries liked this can generally be 1-2 weeks. TLDR: This is a minor injury.
There were talks about Zion sitting out to preserve his health, and surely he would still be the #1 player drafted. He won’t do that. The doc mentioned some lingering pain, so we could see Duke manage his minutes once he’s back. This would hopefully help him be optimal once the tournament starts. Duke has a legit shot at the championship but will need Williamson’s efforts. I expect him back on the court soon with his minutes ramping up as we head into mid-March. Then he can sit back and get his name called 1st in the draft in June.
Long Term Outlook
We probably haven’t seen a teenager preparing to head into the league with this combination of athleticism, strength, and physique since LeBron. He doesn’t have the otherworldly skills of Bron, but I’m pretty sure he’s stronger than James was when he entered the NBA. We haven’t really seen a player like this before. If he were a little taller, he would fit in nicely as a freak center, but at his current size, he’ll most likely slot in at the 4. His shot has looked better than expected, though it will still be an area that needs growth if he wants to keep defenses from playing off of him. He’s also shown some nice potential as a distributor, which combined with his obvious stocks potential, provide the counting numbers that fantasy GMs crave.
I’ve heard comparisons ranging from Charles Barkley to Larry Johnson to Anthony Bennett. The basic body sizes are similarish, but I don’t really see any of those guys in him. He seems to be kind of his own beast, and potentially a player unlike anything we’ve seen before, sort of like the Greek Freak. (Note that I’m not saying he is as good or will ever be as good as Giannis, but that am speaking more on the uniqueness of the player.)
If he can keep his efficiency up (free throws could be a drag), I would predict Zion could end up with a top 50 rookie season. There are still quite a few unknowns as far as fit and overall skill development, but I wouldn’t bet against him. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him breaking into the top 10 down the road.
To see how our Prospect Analyst Jay sees Zion in comparison to the other potential players drafted, check out our Prospect Rankings.