Thoughts on Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, and De’Andre Hunter
January 19, 2019
by Alan Lu
This time around, I decided to take the opportunity to watch Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Duke take on the Virginia Cavaliers in an ACC basketball game. This match featured two very good college basketball teams, and numerous prospects that could go high in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft. It was a very competitive contest that went back and forth, but Duke was able to hold on to get the win due to receiving strong performances from Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett. Here are my thoughts on how they and other various prospects played, as well as how their games may translate to the NBA.
Duke’s freshman forward, Zion Williamson played very well to help get his team a narrow win over Virginia. He really excelled at attacking the basket to garner scores as he can do so in a variety of ways, and he also showed off solid ball handling, rebounding, and defensive skills in the process. Williamson showed a knack for scoring on strong, aggressive drives to the basket. He has a solid first step off the dribble, and he handles the ball well, and Williamson would often barrel his way to the hoop to get free throws, and he also would use some ball handling moves to get smooth scores at the rim. He was able to utilize a crossover to get an opponent to fall down before scoring once, and he also dribbled past defenders before scoring on an underhanded scoop shot. Also, Williamson was able to score on a strong turnaround jumper in the post while getting an extra free throw afterwards. Every once in a while though, he may rush his moves and not always have his balance, and he may miss shots on occasion as a result.
Plus, he also did a great job of scoring on hustle plays. He was able to use a quick crossover to weave past defenders to score on a thunderous dunk in transition while getting an additional free throw, and he also scored on an acrobatic switch of hands layup on the break another time. He also was able to score on a dunk after being left open another time, and he also did a great job of scoring on put backs off of offensive rebounds. Williamson also attempted a three, but missed on his lone attempt from beyond the arc.
He also displayed fairly average playmaking skills. Williamson looked to score quite often in this game, but he can make a variety of passes to set up scoring chances for his teammates. He was able to throw an entry pass to notch an assist, but he also can pass off the dribble as well as from the post to find the open man as well, but he also committed several turnovers. Sometimes, Williamson can go too fast when operating as a ball handler on the move, as he would occasionally lose the basketball or get it poked away, and he also fell another time that caused him to commit a traveling violation.
Also, Williamson did a good job of rebounding the basketball. Williamson was quite active at crashing the glass, and he was able to haul in plenty of boards on both ends of the floor. He would tend to score off of offensive rebounds to provide his team with second chance points, and he also was able to leap up to get numerous defensive boards. In addition, Williamson showed off adequate defensive skills. He was able to rotate on a drive to ferociously block a shot once, and he also excelled at playing passing lanes to get numerous steals and deflections. But he also can be a bit undisciplined on this end of the floor at times. Sometimes, he would tend to commit reach-in fouls when defending drives or in the post. Other times, he would struggle with his position defense, as he would occasionally get beat off the dribble, which would lead his team to commit fouls.
In general, Zion Williamson had a solid showing in his team’s win over Virginia. He played well in a lot of areas of the game, and he primarily excelled as a scorer, rebounder, and defender when he was on the court. He will still need to improve his jump shot, but even so, he is a tremendously skilled, athletic basketball player that could likely be the top pick of the upcoming draft.
Duke’s 6-7 freshman swingman, R.J. Barrett also played well to help get his team a narrow victory over Virginia, as he especially played well down the stretch. While he struggled with his jump shot at first, he played more patiently, and he did a great job of attacking the basket to get scores, and he also played solid defense in this game. Barrett did a very good job of getting scores on patient drives to the basket. Though he would tend to go to his left to do so, Barrett can finish plays using either hand to garner scores. He is a crafty player that has good balance, timing, and body control to often get scores and free throws, and he also showed off a great shooting touch in this game. He was able to use a spin move to score on a floater, and he also managed to score on a fadeaway jumper while getting an extra free throw. Plus, he also showed a knack for scoring on quick drives in transition. But sometimes, he can rush his shots, which can lead him to miss shots wildly in traffic.
He also was able to score on a nifty jumper after catching a high pass in the post. Barrett also was able to score on a tough put back after grabbing an offensive board. In addition, Barrett was also able to get additional free throws late in the contest, though he did not do a great job of knocking them down when he was at the foul line. Also, he showed off adequate playmaking skills. Though Barrett looked to score quite often, he can get teammates the basketball, and sometimes he will find the open man to help get his teammates scoring chances.
Barrett also was able to get his fair share of boards when he was on the floor, and he would leap up to get some defensive rebounds in this game against Virginia. Plus, Barrett also played solid defense. He would actively contest shots to force misses, as he showed a knack for successfully challenging shots when defending threes or in the post, but there was one play where he was caught ball watching as he lost track of his own man, and he ended up getting beat on a cut to allow a score.
In summary, R.J. Barrett had a solid showing in his team’s win over Virginia. He did a great job of scoring on smart, patient drives to the hoop, as well as on hustle plays. He excelled as a shot creator and scorer down the stretch, and he also was able to fare well in a lot of areas of the game. On the other hand, he did not shoot well from beyond the arc, and had some shot selection issues early before resolving them by playing very well in the second half. If he can continue to play as well as he did today, Barrett could end up being a solid candidate to go 1 or 2 in the upcoming draft, as he is a very skilled player that has the potential to end up being a superstar at the next level.
Virginia’s 6-7 sophomore forward, De’Andre Hunter played fairly well in his team’s loss to Duke. He showed off versatile scoring skills, and he was able to score 18 points in this game. Hunter excelled at knocking down pull-up jumpers from just inside the arc, and he also did a very good job of getting scores on quick drives to the basket. While Hunter was unable to make any threes in this game, he showed quite a penchant for making long two-point shots off the dribble. He also has a solid first step off the dribble, and he would often get scores and free throws to help his team. Also, was able to quickly drive on the baseline to score on a powerful two-handed dunk once.
However, he seemed to struggle in the other facets of the game. Though he did grab boards on each end of the floor, Hunter did not collect nearly as many rebounds as he did against Virginia Tech. He also did not look to pass much, and he had a tendency to lose the basketball when looking to create off the dribble, which would lead him to be a bit turnover prone. Defensively, he also tended to commit touch fouls when defending drives, as he had trouble guarding athletic playmakers in this game.
Overall, De’Andre Hunter did a pretty good job of scoring the basketball, but he did not play quite as well in the other elements of this game. He is an athletic combo forward that can score the basketball, but he will need to improve his playmaking and defensive skills. Right now, he could be a likely candidate to get selected by an NBA team in the mid to late first round range, as he could end up thriving as a role player in a mold similar to that of current Boston Celtics’ forward, Marcus Morris in the NBA.
Virginia’s 6-5 junior guard, Ty Jerome also played fairly well in his team’s loss to Duke. He is a smart, skilled playmaker that showed off a good all-around game, and he also displayed deft court vision and a solid ability to make shots off the dribble. Jerome showed a solid ability to score on crafty drives to the basket. He showed a knack for scoring on floaters, and he also can make tough shots in traffic. He also can draw fouls on his opponents, but sometimes he would take off-balanced shots, which at times would lead to misses. However, he struggled more with his jump shot in this game. Though Jerome was able to make an open spot-up three off the catch, he had trouble knocking down jumpers consistently, especially from beyond the arc.
Also, he also displayed good playmaking skills. Jerome has very good court vision, and he can throw crisp, interior passes to set up scores for his teammates. He was able to throw an accurate lob pass to notch one assist, and he also used an overhead ball fake before finding a cutter to collect another. He would often kick the ball out to shooters to set up numerous scoring chances for them. His lone turnover was when he threw a lazy inbounds pass that ended up getting intercepted. However, sometimes he had a tendency to walk the ball up, even in dire situations late in the game when his team was trailing, as there were a couple of plays where he could have looked to speed things up to try to help his team get back in the game more quickly.
Adding to that, Jerome was able to get his fair share of boards in this contest, as he was able to collect a rebound on each end of the floor. He also played fairly average defense. Jerome was able to poke balls away from opposing ball handlers, as he can make it tough for opponents to cleanly dribble the basketball, but sometimes he would gamble wildly for steals, which would cause him to get beat off the dribble to allow scores.
Overall, Ty Jerome had a fairly good game, as he showed off good facilitation skills and a solid ability to get scores off the dribble in his team’s loss to Duke. He struggled more with his jump shot and defense however, but he was able to make some solid plays on the floor. Right now, he may project to be a late first to a second round pick for the upcoming draft, and he is a versatile player that could end up being a reliable role player in the NBA.
Duke’s 6-7 freshman swingman, Cam Reddish had an up and down game in his team’s win over Virginia. He started off playing very well, but unfortunately, he then quickly descended into partaking in some bad habits as he struggled noticeably as the game wore on. Overall, Reddish struggled to shoot or score the basketball consistently, but he did a good job of doing so early in this contest. He was able to make a deep three, and he also was able to score on acrobatic layup off of a drive to the basket. However, Reddish had a tendency to miss three-point shots too often, and he also had several shots of his blocked when he would look to score in the paint. He had a tendency to force up some questionable shots, and he had often trouble scoring in traffic.
He also was quite turnover prone, as he did not fare very well as a playmaker, either. For the positives, Reddish can throw long, accurate passes to set up scoring chances for his teammates on the break, and he also can kick the ball out to shooters when he would opt to pass the basketball. However, he would tend to force the issue too often when looking to create off the dribble, which would lead him to miss shots and commit turnovers. He was called for a couple of offensive fouls when taking the ball to the rack, and he also was fell on a drive and lost the ball out of bounds due to playing too out of control. Also, Reddish threw an entry pass that ended up getting intercepted by a defender.
Reddish did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. He was able to leap up to get one offensive board, and he would tend to haul in numerous defensive boards when he was on the floor. Defensively, he looked to be about average. Reddish will actively play passing lanes, and he also can jump on loose balls to get steals for his team. He also was able to contest threes to force misses. However, he tended to get beat off the dribble to allow scores, and he had trouble staying in front of his man on defense. He also can be late on his rotations, which can also lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.
In summary, Cam Reddish seemed to be headed towards having a good game, but then eventually put forth another lackluster performance in his team’s win over Virginia. It has been frustrating to watch him play this year, as he has not seemed to play very well against top-notch competition very often, and he has struggled to score consistently as well as with turnovers. Still, he is a talented player that can make some very solid plays at times, and there’s a possibility that he still end up being worthy of being a lottery pick, especially if an NBA team is patient with him and is able to unlock his full potential as an overall player.
Virginia’s 6-2 junior guard, Kyle Guy played fairly well in his team’s loss to Duke. He did a good job of getting scores off the dribble, as he can finish plays using either hand, and Guy also used a pump fake and a pivot move to score on another nifty layup around the basket. He also was able to throw an interior pass off the dribble to notch an assist, and he also showed off decent playmaking skills. Guy also rebounded the ball very well. However, while he was able to make a couple of threes, he struggled to consistently knock down long-range jumpers from beyond the arc. Overall, Guy is a skilled combo guard that plays hard and can score the basketball, and he could be a potential second round pick in the upcoming draft.
Virginia’s 6-8 junior forward, Braxton Key also had a fairly good game in his team’s narrow loss on this day. He excelled at driving to the basket and at finishing plays around the basket to get scores and numerous free throws to help Virginia. He also was very active on the glass, and he did a very good job of collecting defensive rebounds when he was on the floor. Defensively, he looked to be about average at best. He was able to jump on a loose ball to get a steal and he also drew a charge on a drive, but he had trouble guarding quicker players, as he would tend to commit fouls and allow scores off of drives to his opponents. Right now, Key is an athletic, combo forward that can get points and rebounds in the paint, and he could project to be a potential second round pick at the next level. If he improves his jump shot and position defense, he could end up being an effective role player in the NBA.