DATA DEPENDENT: Want to rattle Zion? Long and tall does the trick.

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A day after the much hyped match up between Zion Williamson’s New Orleans Pelicans and Luka Doncic’s Dallas Mavericks, common consensus suggests that the head-to-head lived up to the hype.

Maybe we were watching a different Pelicans-Mavericks game…

For most of the game, Luka Doncic imposed will on the game, especially when the Mavs needed him to. 30 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 assists says it all. Zion? Not so much. His line was much more modest, registering 21 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists. And to be honest, it looks a lot better than it was. It was a quiet performance, even with the dunks and piledriver drives down the lane. Brandon Ingram and Lonzo “Found-His-Three” Ball all put in better performances. Granted, this was the 19-year old’s first NBA back-to-back game and he looked a bit spent at certain points. It was also one of the few times he’s encountered quality length in opposing teams. Kristap Porzingis had a monster game swatting Zion’s shots on numerous occassions. At one point, Zion was so hesitant to drive to the hoop that he settled for mid-ranged, minimal arc jumper. In the end, Williamson shot 9 of 18 (.500).

Borderline efficient.

This isn’t new.

Prior to facing the Mavericks, Williamson’s FG% registered .500 or less only twice (albeit in a very limited sample size). The first time was against the Milwaukee Bucks who have quality length in Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez. In a 12 point loss to the Bucks, Williamson shot a miserable 5 of 19 (.263) with 7 boards and 4 turnovers. All that amounted to a -11 +/-.

That’s not so great.

The next time Williamson’s efficiency dipped was against the Los Angeles Lakers. Again, it was in the face of quality big men. This time it was the trifecta of Lebron James, Dwight Howard, and Anthony Davis. Zion shot 8 of 18 (.444) with 6 rebounds and 3 turnover. The bulk of his points came at the charity stripe where he shot 13 of 19. While 29 points is obviously nothing to complain about, Williamson’s shooting percentage does dip considerably and seems to indicate that he can be taken out of his comfort zone around the rim by length.

But…

The upside to all this is the fact that the rookie is, in fact, a rookie and he’ll surely continue to improve as he gains more experience… and loses a few pounds… and really works on that line-drive jump shot.

But those are issues for another post.

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