On Feb 20, there were no NBA teams in action as players were enjoying their final day of rest from the All-Star Break. Despite the absence of NBA basketball, there was still an intriguing matchup on the hardwood.
The no. 1 ranked NCAA team, the Duke Blue Devils, played the no. 8 ranked team, the University of North Carolina Tar Heels, in a highly anticipated rivalry basketball game.
About 30 seconds into the game, something occurred that may have a direct effect on NBA teams including the New York Knicks.
Zion Williamson, a NCAA Player of the Year candidate, planted his foot while driving into the paint and his left shoe gave out. His left foot burst through the side of his shoe right between the rubber sole and the tough fabric on the side and caused Williamson to fall awkwardly, twisting his right knee as he went down.
Zion’s shoe blew all the way up pic.twitter.com/I1nXdZJWem
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) February 21, 2019
Here is a screen grab from the video of Zion’s injury. You can watch the full video by clicking on the link to Michael Lee’s tweet above.
Williamson did not return to the game after the injury and Duke went on to lose 88-72.
The injury to Williamson brings up some important questions for the first-year sensation, and NBA teams projected to pick in the top-5 of the upcoming NBA Draft like the New York Knicks.
Immediately after the injury, thousands of fans and analysts alike began hypothesizing what Zion’s next move should be.
First, what will happen if Zion has a serious injury?
With the new draft odds giving the worst three NBA teams an equal chance at being awarded the first overall pick, the Knicks could hypothetically draft somewhere else besides first, despite finishing the with the worst overall season record.
Therefore, the Knicks could benefit from a serious Zion injury. If the Knicks do not get the first overall pick, Zion may slide past the top teams in the draft because NBA front offices could be worried about selecting an injured player.
If the Knicks are dead set on Zion, they could take a chance with Zion with their draft pick because Zion could seriously be one of the best players in years to come out of college despite an injury.
For example, players like Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid were injured early in their careers, but have turned into literal All-Stars. Also, Michael Porter played limited minutes in college and was still drafted by the Denver Nuggets in the first round.
The Knicks even took a chance on Mitchell Robinson despite playing zero NCAA minutes and that pick has paid off greatly for New York so far.
A long term Zion injury could benefit the Knicks if the do not get the first overall pick.
If the Knicks do not want to risk a pick on an injured player, there are several other generational talents available at the top of the draft.
A more in depth analysis of draft prospects will be coming soon as the Draft draws closer, but other players the Knicks should consider are two OTHER Duke freshman, Cam Reddish and RJ Barrett. The Blue Devils could quite literally produce the first three draft picks in the next NBA Draft. Also, Ja Morant who plays for mid-major college Murray State, has drawn loads of attention for his prolific scoring and passing abilities.
Second, what if Zion is not seriously injured?
Hopefully, Zion is healthy because it is never fun to wish injury on any player. However, if he is healthy, it may be in Williamson’s best interest to forgo the remainder of the season and sit out, avoiding any chance for injury.
This is something that happens in college football much more often because injury occurs much more often in football as compared to college basketball.
Zion may want to maintain his health and in turn, maintain the evitable first overall pick he could be if healthy.
Fans should expect Zion to only return if he is 100% healthy. No National Championship would be worth jeopardizing the financial security of being a lottery pick in the NBA, not to mention the fame and success that Zion is almost guaranteed beginning in October 2019.
Knicks fan may want Zion to sit out the rest of the year to keep their possible-franchise changing player healthy. Pay attention to the Duke injury report. Even if he is healthy and cleared to play, Zion could sit the rest of the year out.
Featured Image: via Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) on Twitter