- The New Orleans Pelicans landed the #1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft
- Some reports indicated that didn’t sit well with the man they are going to select, Zion Williamson
- Is there any chance a spiteful Zion returns to Duke for his sophomore season?
The New Orleans Pelicans lucked into the #1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft on Tuesday and, apparently, Zion Williamson’s reaction was not overwhelmingly positive.
According to CBS Sports’ Kevin Skiver, “The presumptive No. 1 pick reportedly had to be , and it got to the point where there was speculation about whether Williamson could go back to Duke for a season.”
Imagine the man who dominated college basketball like few others before him returning to school, one year older, one year stronger, one year faster. If there was any chance of that happening, the 2020 National Championship odds would not look like this.
2020 NCAA Tournament Futures
|Team||Odds to win 2020 NCAA Tournament (May 15)|
Zion Ain’t Coming Back to Duke
The story that shouldn’t be a story is being treated as such by sportsbooks.
Oddsmakers have kept Duke steady at +600 to win the 2020 National Championship. If the powers-that-be at those sportsbooks thought, for even a brief second, that Zion might be back in Durham next year, the Blue Devils’ odds would be considerably shorter, like they were all of last year.
Williamson was historically dominant in his freshman season. His basic stats are impressive enough: 22.6 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 2.1 APG, and 1.8 BPG. But his per-40-minutes numbers are just bonkers: 30.1 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 2.7 APG, 2.4 BPG.
The South Carolinian recorded a Player Efficiency Rating of 40.8! The best PER in a single NBA season is 31.82 by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962-63.
If Wilt was a man among boys back then, Zion was a man among toddlers suffering from inner-ear infections.
[Zion] recorded a Player Efficiency Rating of 40.8 [last season]! The best PER in a single NBA season is 31.82 by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962-63.
Unfortunately for Blue Devil fans, the rumors of his potential return were quickly put to bed, both by those in the business and those close to him.
On ESPN radio, his step father said, “Zion has always been taught: You accept the things that you can’t change, you change the things that you can change. And this is one of the things that he had nothing to do with. It’s the process of the NBA and certainly we’re excited about the Crescent City down there in New Orleans.”
The tweets from basketball writers came fast and furious, explaining the millions of very green reasons why Zion won’t be returning to college.
Between his shoe deal, endorsements and salary … Zion Williamson has a chance to make $20+ million next season.
Color me extremely, extraordinarily skeptical that Zion would return to Duke.
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) May 15, 2019
Don’t Bet Duke at +600
As my esteemed colleague Dave Golokhov wrote in April, betting Duke to win the 2020 NCAA Tournament now isn’t wise. Yes, they have another top recruiting class coming in, but it doesn’t include anyone comparable to Zion. Plus, in recent years, Mike Krzyzewski has really struggled to turns his groups of highly touted prospects into more than a sum of their parts.
In all honesty, it seems like Coach K is phoning it in these days. His recent teams have not run clean sets on offense and have relied on pure athleticism at the defensive end.
Even if Duke rockets to an ACC title and gets a #1 seed in March Madness, it’s likely that you’ll be able to get them at around +400 entering the dance. Any missteps along the way and this +600 number (or better) is going to be available in March.
I’m certainly inclined to take a wait-and-see approach with a team replacing its three top scorers, especially with upperclassmen Marques Bolden and Javin DeLaurier putting their names into the draft as well.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.