Kevin Durant had high praise for Zion Williamson as he and his Brooklyn Nets teammates prepare to open the 2022-23 NBA season Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Durant said Williamson is a "one of one" kind of talent, per ESPN's Nick Friedell:
"You've seen guys at that size, 6'7", that can get up and down the floor and move, but not at that level though. You've seen guys like Jason Maxiell's, I'm not saying they jump as high as Zion but they were undersized guys that played bigger. And Zion's one of those guys. Rodney Rogers — I'm missing so many guys that were that tall at 6'6", Charles Barkley bruiser type guys but played bigger. But Zion's athleticism trumps all of theirs by far. And when you add that to the mix it makes him a one of one."
The comment is reminiscent of when Durant called then-New York Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis a "unicorn." Although Porzingis hasn't transformed the NBA as some hoped, any multifaceted big inevitably gets the "unicorn" label.
When it comes to Williamson, the 22-year-old is an anomaly. At 6'6" and 284 pounds, he's built more like an NFL linebacker than an NBA forward, and he has the physical gifts and intuition to inhabit almost any position on the floor.
Thanks to his injuries, the glimpses we've had of Williamson have been too few, but he has more than lived up to the hype when healthy. Through 85 career games, he's averaging 25.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists while shooting 60.4 percent from the floor and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc.
At 34, Durant represents the old guard. He's hardly showing any signs of slowing down, but sooner or later, the spotlight will shift to younger stars entering their prime.
Until he proves otherwise, durability will remain a question for Williamson, and his injury history will lead many to feel cautiously optimistic about his long-term outlook.
But there's no doubt as his game evolves the Pelicans star has all of the tools to dominate the NBA like nobody else can.