New York Knicks: Why missing on Zion was a blessing for him and the fans

(Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Zion Williamson hasn’t touched the floor for the New Orleans Pelicans yet. For the sake of him and the Knicks’ fanbase, it’s a good thing they missed out on drafting him.

Let me take you back to the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery. Knicks fans were hoping and praying for the Ping Pong balls to roll in their favor so that they could land what they thought was going to be the best thing that ever happened to their franchise, Zion Williamson. Even when he was injured for multiple games at Duke after bursting out of his shoe during a game against North Carolina, fans still thought that he was the savior of the organization. Then, the unthinkable happens for Knicks fans and if they couldn’t get any worse luck, they slide to the Third Overall Pick in the draft.

Now, it didn’t matter who they were selecting. Because they missed out on Zion, anything else to some fans was a sad attempt at a Plan B and people actually directed that disrespect to current Knicks rookie RJ Barrett who was seen to some as a consolation prize. So, now that Barrett has actually been able to show all Knicks fans that he can hoop and deserves to be in the discussion for not only Rookie of the Year, but also warrants the recognition of a potential franchise piece. Put simply, Barrett has appeared in every single game for the Knicks during his rookie season and has shown durability, Zion has not.

For both the Knicks fans and Zion individually, it was honestly a blessing in disguise that he didn’t get drafted by New York. Now, there’s no way of telling that he would’ve had the same injury at the same point in time had he been a Knick, but one thing’s for sure. There’s no way that an individual of his stature, standing tall at 6’6 and 284 pounds, with a 45 inch vertical, and poor landing technique, was ever going to go through his career without at least one lengthy injury. Sure, maybe this is the only injury he ever sustains for his entire career and for his sake, I hope it is, but let’s say he was on the Knicks with this injury. Fans and the media would be rushing him throughout his rehab process and making him feel like he had to come back before he was 100 percent ready.

You see it happen with high caliber players all the time. Derrick Rose, LeBron James, even Kyrie Irving was being scrutinized by the Brooklyn media at times for taking too long with his injury. Now take all of that media/fan expectation and multiply it by ten, then add on possibly the most electrifying college prospect ever, and put him in a Knicks uniform. Yeah, a recipe for disaster. I could see the potential headlines now; ‘Zion rushes back from injury and now has no timetable for return’. Then the injuries just keep piling on because all he wants to do is put on for his city.

For the fans of New York, it’s good for everyone just to know that you have a rookie in Barrett who can give you consistent minutes and produce on an all-around level. Was he ever going to fill the seats in Madison Square Garden like Williamson would’ve? Probably not, but isn’t it better looking back on missing Zion now, knowing that you have someone in Barrett that’s not only excited to play in New York but wants to bring success to the city too?

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A healthy Zion would’ve been great for ticket sales, sure, but we haven’t even seen him play real NBA competition yet. He’s healing at his own pace in New Orleans and isn’t being hounded by media every waking second for it. What the Knicks are going to be able to build with Barrett looks like a promising future and the same probably wouldn’t be said with the amount of uncertainty that was and will always be tagged along with his Blue Devil brother. Especially if he was in a Knicks jersey.