2020 NBA - LeBron against his likely successor Zion Williamson

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2020 NBA - LeBron against his likely successor Zion Williamson

BY MARK ARCHER
Contributor

Friday, February 28, 2020

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When LeBron James played his first game in the NBA, Zion Williamson was three years old. Last Wednesday night, for the first time, LeBron was pitted against Zion when the Los Angeles Lakers took on the New Orleans Pelicans at the Staples Center.

Zion is the most exciting NBA rookie since LeBron exploded onto the professional courts 16 years ago. He came into the league with massive expectations and, with the setback of last October's knee surgery behind him, he has not disappointed.

Since his foray into the professional game on January 22 of this year, Williamson has averaged over 23 points per game – scoring 20 points or more in nine consecutive games (including 29 on Wednesday).

Zion has now become the youngest player in NBA history to score 20 points or more in that stretch of consecutive outings.

The Lakers and Pelicans have met twice this season (prior to Wednesday) and both contests resulted in a Los Angeles win.

However, since Zion's return, the Pelicans have amassed an 8-5 record which included wins in five of their last six games and seven of their last eight road games.

LeBron and the Lakers, being well aware of Zion's potential and the Pelicans' recent surge, were obviously prepared for the wave. LeBron was coming off back-to-back 30-point nights in which he averaged 32 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 10.5 assists per game. The Lakers were 17-0 this season when James put up 30 points and, for them to win on Wednesday, a monster night was expected from LeBron; he didn't disappoint.

LeBron finished with a season-high 40 points en route to a 118-109 Lakers victory - their sixth-straight win thus maintaining a five-game advantage over the Denver Nuggets atop the NBA Western Conference.

Following the contest, the 35-year-old (LeBron) was quick to heap praises on the 19-year-old (Zion); describing him as special, exceptional, and explosive.

Considering Zion's numbers, in comparison to LeBron's after their first 12 professional games, the expectation is for the younger phenom to eventually leapfrog his more experienced counterpart (at least statistically).

However, while Zion is off to an electrifying start, it is far too early to say whether or not his career will measure up to that of “the King.” But, if he has any ambition of getting there, two fundamental things need to be addressed – his weight and his free-throw shooting percentage.

Zion entered the active season obviously overweight.

This may be attributed to his recovery time following knee surgery last October, but the reported efforts made by LeBron to keep his body in peak condition is testament to the reason why he is still able to compete at a high level. While there haven't been any reports that Zion mistreats his body, imagine what would happen with a bit of tweaking.

If LeBron has one evident flaw, it's his free-throw shooting. He's shooting just under 70 per cent this year, which isn't that bad, but it matters especially when the game is on the line and he needs to be the closer. Zion is only shooting 60 per cent from the free-throw line and, he's already getting to the line nearly eight times per game – if he had enough games to qualify, that would rank him in the top 10.

As he develops into the expected dominant force, he will draw more attention and visit the line more often. If he can get closer to 80 per cent from the stripe and build a LeBron-like indestructible body, the sky is the limit for this heir apparent.

Zion and the Pelicans will regroup and entertain the Lakers at home this Sunday but the JustBet odds offerings for all the weekend NBA games will be available on game dates along with those for all other popular sports and events. Please visit one of the over 100 locations (or visit mobile.justbetja.com) for details and place your bets on the prediction of your choice for maximum winnings…Get in the GAME!

First 12 NBA Career Games
LeBron --- Zion
17.5 POINTS 23.3
6.5 REBOUND 7.2
4-8 TEAM RECORD 7-2


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