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Preseason musings about Zion, Giannis, and the Doncic-Porzingis pairing

When these four unique players come to town, the Warriors will have to be ready to play some defense.

New Orleans Pelicans v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

During the lulls between in Warriors preseason basketball games, I’ve tuned into a few other teams to check out what they’ve got cooking. The New Orleans Pelicans, Dallas Mavericks, and Milwaukee Bucks all gave me something to write home about.

Zion is a problem

Zion Williamson is leading me to believe that the massive hype that’s followed him since high school is legit. His freakish athleticism is translating quite well so far in the pros. He reminds me of a young LeBron James or Russell Westbrook in the sense that his physical presence is so dominant that it feels like he’s always getting downhill on his opponents.

Williamson is averaging 23.3 points in 27.3 minutes while shootiong 71.4 percent from the field.

Oleh Kosel at The Bird Writes wrote a piece on Williamson that gives us a peek inside the excitement churning up in New Orleans:

One doesn’t require examining Williamson’s three-point (25%) and free throw (68%) percentages to know that his form and stroke need to rack up requisite time in the gym. That hours and hours of film study with Jeff Bdzelik lie waiting in his immediate future; there’s a lot of things to fix defensively. However, you just can’t help but drool at the aforementioned numbers — even if they are of the exhibition variety — because they compare ridiculously well against all of the biggest names in recent rookie history.

I can’t wait for Draymond Green and Kevon Looney to lock horns with this bold, exciting rookie.

Doncic and Porzingis can be a scary tag team

Speaking of bold and exciting rookies, Luka Doncic is coming off of a magical Rookie of the Year season of his own. After spending his first season ripping hearts out of other teams in crunch-time and generating some joy in Dallas, Doncic is primed to follow up with a strong sophomore season.

This time he’ll be joined by the 7-foot-3 Kristaps Porzingis, a talented 24-year old who was dubbed as a “Unicorn” by Kevin Durant because of his amazing combination of size and skill. Porzingis appears fully recovered from the knee injury he suffered whilst escaping the wreckage of the New York Knicks franchise.

Both Porzingis and Doncic possess dangerous offensive versatility, as they can stretch the floor or attack their defenders at the rim.

Kevin O’Connor wrote a great piece for The Ringer about the potential of these two:

Doncic is a transcendent playmaker who manipulates defenders with his eyes and body, and then delivers passes in every direction all over the court with precision. There’s a Larry Bird–like quality to him: He’s not overly athletic, but his passing skills and instincts are already elite and could someday reach an all-time level.

Having a target like Porzingis can help Doncic reach his potential. Doncic will serve as the primary shot creator, and Porzingis as the finisher who stabilizes the defense.

I’m looking forward to how Golden State schemes for these two when the teams meet up this season.

The Greek Freak is learning to splash?

The reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo has been dominant as usual to start the preseason, averaging 28 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 assists.

He even appears to have added a long-distance jumper to complement his normal repertoire of running to the rim and destroying whoever is underneath. In two games, he’s shooting 3-of-7 (42.9%) from downtown.

Antetokounmpo is a lifetime 27% shooter from distance, and shot a horrendous 25% beyond the arc last season. In last summer’s postseason, he shot 32%, but it wasn’t enough to keep opponents from backing waaay off of him to barricade his rim forays.

Clearly, the MVP wants to get a more complete game, and if he succeeds, the league will have another thing to worry about.

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