Zion Williamson Preseason Scouting Report

Zion Williamson, PF

Last Recorded Measurements:

Height (in sneakers) Weight Standing Reach Wingspan
6’6 272 8’7 6’10
-3.5 +27 -4.25 -3.5


Summary (Scouting videos at bottom):

  • Very athletic (laterally and vertically) and aggressive/relentless attacking the rim.
  • Built like a tank, and uses it well. A lot of “functional strength.”
  • Grab and go rebounder.
  • Has a very nice handle for a PF and a quick first step.
  • Jumper needs work, but apparently he has been working on it. This is something to look for at Duke.
  • Soft touch with left hand, but almost never goes to his right hand.
  • Defense needs work, but he has the tools to be a good defender even with his poor length. He has great lateral quickness for a PF and explosive leaping ability.



Athleticism & Frame:

  • Built like an absolute tank. Very strong upper and lower body.
  • He moves very well laterally. 272 lbs, but he moves like he’s much lighter. He could probably lose a bit of weight and gain even more lateral quickness, which is a scary thought.
  • Very explosive with a great second jump. Gets up high, attacks the rim hard, and is an easy riser.




17-18 22.5 7.2 1.2 / .7 64.5 72.5 .8 / 1.2    


Offense: 94th percentile overall 


Past Season Synergy stats (Percentile ranking)

Catch & Shoot (guarded/unguarded) PnR Offense Transition Spot Up (off ball) Post Up Around Basket Iso
0 (0/0) 94 94 24 96 97 76



  • As of the date of this report, he has a very limited jumper. He’ll flash an off the dribble jumper, but is not consistent at all. Using him as a jump shooter is a misuse of his ability anyway, as he is an elite offensive rebounder and finisher in paint.
    • 8/43 on all jump shots, 13th percentile;, 0/8 on catch and shoot, 0 percentile; 7/30 dribble jumpers, 29th percentile
  • Needs to develop a jump shot to take his game to the next step. He already is absolutely relentless attacking the rim, and getting that jumper would make him even more difficult to guard.



  • Menace in transition. He gets out and runs hard to the rim.
  • If he’s not getting fouled (35.8% foul rate), he’s finishing at the rim with a big dunk.
  • Comfortable leading the break (95th percentile) or running on the wings for the lob.


Offensive Rebounding / Around Paint / Post ups

  • 15/23 on offensive rebound putbacks, 92nd percentile (should note, this number would be higher if he did not attempt to kill the rim with every putback dunk); 53/73 around rim, 97th percentile (again, number would be higher if he did not try to kill the rim with every putback dunk).
  • Very athletic attacking the rim. Has nice finishes going under the defender’s arms, but he is very left hand dominant.
  • He has no issue attacking right/with a right hand dribble, but he almost always goes back to the left hand. At the moment, he really does not have a right hand in the paint. He’ll go back into the defense with his left instead of using his right hand to get the cleaner look.
  • Takes contact at the rim well and can finish through the rim.
  • I know I’m repeating myself again, but he has work to do on finishing with his right hand.
  • Seals man well in post. Left hand finisher, but comfortable starting his move to the middle with either hand. Overpowers smaller guys, and can get through weak double teams. 3.1 turnover percentage when he makes his move, and 0% turnover percentage on passes. 47% foul rate and finishes through contact.


Attacking Off Dribble

  • Westbrook-esque attacking the rim. Explosive first step around the defense, looks to dunk everything when he can (otherwise goes for a scoop layup with left hand), and gets fouled a lot. He will drive through defenders to get to his spot.
  • Almost always attacks the rim in isolations. 30 of his 32 shots in isolations came on drives.
  • In PnR setting, he takes way too many off the dribble jumpers from three. Defenses would play him giving up the three, and instead of surveying the court and playing the clock a bit, he would take the early three. He hit very few off the dribble jumpers, and even fewer off the dribble 3s.
  • As I mention below, his attacking mentality also leads to drives into multiple defenders. While this could be an effective tool if you know how to drive and kick (or hit the cutters), Zion has not displayed that ability thus far. He will often force crazy attempts while being surrounded by 2+ defenders.


Handle / Passing

  • Good handle with varied dribble set. I would even say he has a great handle for a PF. Uses crossovers, hesitations, and spins.
  • He loves setting defender up by lulling them to sleep/getting them on their back feet/getting them to relax and then exploding past them – he really does not move like someone who weighs 272 lbs. Explosive first step. Comfortable going right and left off the dribble, but his left hand is stronger than right (nowhere near as noticeable as it is with his finishing..
  • Low turnover numbers (only 10%), but part of that low number is because he does not look to pass often. He’ll often drive into multiple defenders ignoring open shooters in the short corner or divers.
  • He is not someone who can run the PnR and hit teammates because he does not see the court well. Out of 48 possessions running the PnR, he only passed 7 times. No advanced reads.
  • He sees the court better in isolations (8 passes out of 40 possessions), but it is really only as a last resort. No advanced reads.



Defense and Rebounding: 46th percentile overall

Spot Up Isolation Off Screen Post Up PnR Around Basket
73 11 N/A N/A N/A N/A


NOTE — It’s pretty difficult to say how good a defender is based off of his AAU tape, but there are some things I liked and other things I did not. Rather than going into a full on deep dive like I do with the college and international players, this section will be based on observations and notes I took while watching games.


  • Even with his limited length, I think he has the ability to be a “plus” defender. He’s quick laterally, very explosive vertically, and is very strong. I think he will be able to defend 3s and 4s, and possibly 5s in small ball situations. He needs to work on his technique because right now he stands too upright and on his heels, but these are fixable issues. He changes direction well and is light on his feet, so I think his iso defense should improve as he focuses more. I’m really curious about finding his ideal playing weight, because if he can get down to 250 and be as aggressive as he is now, he’ll be even more explosive laterally and vertically…which is scary.


  • He is a good rebounder considering he was often guarding perimeter players and not post guys. He’d crash from the outside when the ball was shot, would rebound out of area, and would get the ball at its peak. Again, his explosive vertical really helps here.


  • I don’t recall him being posted up in any film I watched and Synergy has 0 post ups recorded, so there’s that. This is where his poor standing reach might hurt him. He will probably have to put in more work before the catch keeping guys away from the blocks, as well as after the catch keeping the post up man from the rim. He has the strength, so neither should be very difficult. He has a low center of gravy – almost Chuck Hayes-esque.


  • Right now, his biggest issue is focus. It might have been the AAU setting, but he never really seemed “in tune” to defense. He would close out late on jump shots, let guys get by him unless he really wanted that stop, and would put less effort on defense compared to offense. The fact that he could really stay in front of most players when he wanted to gives me hope going forward, but the consistency is something to watch.


  • With a greater focus on defense, his rotations could improve as well, because right now, he really does not make them. (As noted above, focus on defense is generally an issue with him, but I am unsure if it is because of the AAU setting or due to a general relaxed attitude on that half of the court.) This is something to watch at Duke.