Zion Williamson is the NBA’s most-hyped rookie – for good reason. He was incredibly productive at Duke, and his jaw-dropping athleticism should help his game translate with the Pelicans. He wasn’t just the consensus No. 1 pick this year. He was viewed as the best prospect in years.
His peers seem less enamored.
Williamson tied for fourth in the NBA’s annual rookie survey when rookies were asked which member of this class would have the best career. The full results:
1. Cam Reddish, Atlanta — 19%
2. Ja Morant, Memphis — 16%
3. De'Andre Hunter, Atlanta — 11%
4. R.J. Barrett, New York — 5%
Jaxson Hayes, New Orleans — 5%
Coby White, Chicago — 5%
Zion Williamson, New Orleans — 5%
Others receiving votes: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, New Orleans; Jarrett Culver, Minnesota; Carsen Edwards, Boston; Darius Garland, Cleveland; Rui Hachimura, Washington; Keldon Johnson, San Antonio; Mfiondu Kabengele, LA Clippers; Romeo Langford, Boston; Cody Martin, Charlotte; Eric Paschall, Golden State; Tremont Waters, Boston; Dylan Windler, Cleveland
Reddish – the No. 10 pick – is a surprising top choice. He has plenty of talent and fluid athleticism, but he really struggled at Duke last season. That was a dispiriting development that wouldn’t happen to most players bound for NBA stardom.
I wouldn’t read too much into these results. Of the 42 polled rookies, 81% picked someone other than Reddish.
Still, it’s jarring to see Reddish so far ahead of Williamson.
Williamson didn’t get a majority of votes for Rookie of the Year prediction either, though he at least led that category:
1. Zion Williamson, New Orleans — 35%
2. Ja Morant, Memphis — 27%
3. R.J. Barrett, New York — 5%
Cam Reddish, Atlanta — 5%
Others receiving votes: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, New Orleans; Goga Bitadze, Indiana; Brandon Clarke, Memphis; Carsen Edwards, Boston; Darius Garland, Cleveland; Kyle Guy, Sacramento; Rui Hachimura, Washington; Romeo Langford, Boston; Coby White, Chicago; Grant Williams, Boston
It’s close between Williamson and the field for Rookie of the Year. But if picking only one player, how do you pick someone other than Williamson?
Not every rookie takes these questions seriously. Clearly. Here, I think there’s especially an element of wanting to be different. Williamson is such an obvious answer to these questions, I bet many players gave their next answer. When too many do that, it looks silly.
At least the rookies chose Williamson as most athletic. In the only question where someone got a major of votes, Williamson topped 87% of the ballots.