In the wild and enormous internet, there are already countless articles discussing the potential landing spots of Zion Williamson and the reverberations his presence will bring upon our humble Planet Earth. From tanking teams to trades with contenders, talented writers across the nation are thinking and writing about the franchise-altering prospect from Duke.
But I’m not employed by any news organization or website, and I don’t want to talk about that, and also this is just a tiny Medium account. They say no man is an island, but except they are dumb and wrong, because I am an island, in this specific case. I am free to write about whatever I’d like, and in this case, I don’t want to write about where Zion could go, but rather where he should go.
I’ve always said that if I don’t have a stake in the game, I just want to see the most fun basketball possible. It’s from that perspective that I consider Zion. To sort out my thoughts on this, here is every lottery team, their percent chance of getting the number one pick, and how I would feel if Zion was drafted by each.
New York Knicks (14%)
Austin’s Rating: 1/10 Honestly, I’m tired of being told the Knicks are one of the premier teams in the National Basketball Association. I understand they are in a massive market and have a widespread fanbase, but they, like the Lakers, seem to have no real plan for their franchise other than Being The Knicks. From what I can tell, owner James Dolan has no idea what he’s doing and/or doesn’t care because hey, it’s New York, and people will pay to see the team regardless. For me, the environment is a huge factor; can the team create the right place for Zion/any young player to grow? I doubt the Knicks can. Also, I don’t know what a Knick is (I refuse to find out) and the team’s color scheme is whatever. (Side note: If both KD and Kyrie actually do sign here, sure, my rating moves up. I’m not sure how much.)
Cleveland Cavaliers (14%)
Austin’s Rating: 1/10 From 2014 to 2018, I was tricked into rooting for the Cleveland Cavaliers when it turns out I just enjoyed watching one specific Cleveland Cavalier, and now that he is gone, I do not care about the Cleveland Cavaliers. I have no faith in their ability to build a contender; their entire strategy when the best player in the world was on the team was “we have the best player in the world” and that player went 1–4 in the NBA Finals while wearing a Cleveland jersey. Their roster is a mess, their owner sucks, and their uniforms are awful. Stay away, Zion.
Phoenix Suns (14%)
Austin’s Rating: 3/10 I’m noticing a pattern here with bad owners. Maybe, and I’m spitballing here, an owner’s capability has a direct impact on the quality of the team. I don’t know. I’m not an expert. What I can say is, the Suns receive a rating of 3 instead of a 1 solely because it would be interesting to see what a Devin Booker, DeAndre Ayton, and Zion lineup is capable of, but again, I don’t have a lot of faith in the team or their leadership, so I’m still against it.
Chicago Bulls (12.5%)
Austin’s Rating: 2/10 I cannot name a single player on the Bulls other than Lauri Markkanen. Oh! Zach LaVine. Great job by me. Anyway, I don’t care about the Bulls, and I’m not a big Michael Jordan fan so I don’t have the brand allegiance there. I gave the Bulls a 2 instead of a 1 because A) it kind of sucks when four teams are trying to tank and you couldn’t even be the best at being the worst and B) out of the four really bad teams, the Bulls have the best jersey. That’s it.
Atlanta Hawks (10.5%)
Austin’s Rating: 8/10 A year ago when my Dallas Mavericks traded the rights to Trae Young for Luka Doncic, I was over the moon. You can ask my friend, Tim. He was there! Now, a year later, it seems that trade might have actually been good for both teams. Trae’s excellent second half of his rookie season and the emergence of fellow rookie John Collins would create an exciting and forgiving atmosphere for a young star like Zion to grow. It’s also the only city so far that I feel could do right by having such a possibly massive star among their midst. The Hawks have a barber shop inside their arena. They’re doing it right, and they’d be a 10 if not for their prismatic, neon jerseys.
Washington Wizards (9%)
Austin’s Rating: 2/10 Yikes! The Wizards are a black hole team right now. They haven’t been bad long enough to receive the pity/label of a tanking team, but they’ve never been good enough to win any real affection. I did once love John Wall, but I don’t know if he’ll ever really play basketball again, or at least play at any level close to his former prime. Bradley Beal is good though, so that’s nice.
New Orleans Pelicans (6%)
Austin’s Rating: 6/10 Can you imagine? I can too. It’s amazing. Anthony Davis, potentially one of the top five best players in the NBA, asks for a trade in the worst way and at the worst time, becomes something of a villain after being a basketball protagonist his whole career, and then the team just gets Zion? The implications are almost too great to bear. Would they trade AD for a young group of assets to support their new star? Would they keep AD in the hopes that maybe now he’d want to stay, or even if he didn’t, it would be worth it just to see the two of them share the floor? I have no idea! But I would love to find out.
Memphis Grizzlies (6%)
Austin’s Rating: 4/10 I like the Grizzlies; I really do. They’ve been a fun, interesting team for the last decade, with iconic players like Tony Allen, Zach Randolph, Mike Conley, and Marc Gasol at the helm. Even when they’ve been really good, they get very little attention, which only makes me more drawn to them. Zion landing in Memphis would be so weird; he would instantly put a team on the map that has somewhat avoided the map for years, but it would be a lot of fun, and I think the environment would be okay — even good — for him. However, considering the residual presence of the Grit and Grind mantra, we’d probably get fewer highlights. Everything has a price.
Dallas Mavericks (6%)
Austin’s Rating: 7/10 While I am from Dallas, my loyalty to the Mavericks does not overwhelm me, and I like to think I’m able to look at them through a fairly realistic lens. Trading the Hawks to get Luka Doncic instantly added a presence to the Mavs that hasn’t been there since the 2000s; a dazzling, incredibly unique talent with the offensive capability to take over games. And he’s only 19 years old. The addition of Kristaps Porzingis is also intriguing, if not thrilling yet, and somehow landing Zion would make this one of the must-watch teams in the league. Who knows? Maybe they’d even finally redesign their horrendous branding. Does anyone else miss the basketball wearing a cowboy hat?
Minnesota Timberwolves (3%)
Austin’s Rating: 7/10 After the team traded away Jimmy Butler, the Timberwolves somehow became far more interesting albeit less good at basketball. Their roster is fairly inconsistent, with a lot of players skilled in one or two specific aspects. However, Karl Anthony-Towns is on that wonderful level of players who can singlehandedly keep a franchise afloat, and he’s only 23. He and Zion together would be awe-inspiring, even if they have to share the floor with the only professional basketball player who kind of maybe hates playing basketball.
Los Angeles Lakers (2%)
Austin’s Rating: 4/10 The largest consequence of LeBron James joining the Lakers was that he essentially disappeared from The Conversation. Throughout his career, there has always been a story around him — hometown hero during his first stint in Cleveland, villainous leader of a villainous team in Miami, and eventually, the prodigal son returned to realize a city’s dreams back in Cleveland again. On the Lakers, there isn’t much of a narrative to cling to; he’s just there, drinking wine, on a messy roster, with a bunch of young players that the Pelicans turned down when they were offered the whole bunch. The addition of Zion would be… exciting? I guess? The most fun thing that could happen would be the Lakers trading LeBron James to get Zion.
Miami Heat (1%)
Austin’s Rating: 2/10 It’s one big old Who Cares for the Miami Heat, who have been trying and failing to return to relevancy since the King left five years ago. Like the Washington Wizards above, they’ve never been bad enough to pity, and even if they were, LeBron James was on the team only five years ago, so no one cares. They get a 2 instead of a 1, though, because they have the best uniforms in the NBA.
Sacramento Kings (1%)*
Austin’s Rating: :-( The Kings would be my absolute favorite lottery team to potentially get Zion after the season they just had (despite their refusal to fire new coach, Luke Walton). However, the Kings are one of the many teams who keep trading draft picks to the Celtics, so they don’t own their first round pick. Luckily, if the pick is somehow the number one overall, the 76ers will get it, and not the Celtics, who do not deserve it (though Philly probably doesn’t either; this whole thing sucks).