Pelicans’ Zion Williamson Draws Comparisons To Charles Barkley, Shawn Kemp

Getty Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson is physically gifted and speedy. Some have compared the Duke product to Charles Barkley.


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Barkley has told me he doesn’t see it.

“The kid is more explosive than I am,” Barkley told me last fall.

“He seems like a great kid too. He’s really explosive, he might want to learn to play basketball at a little lower level.”

What about Shawn Kemp?

Kemp was one of the greatest to ever do it on the basketball court. The 17th overall pick in the 1989 NBA Draft out of to Trinity Valley Community College, Kemp was a six-time All-Star during his NBA career.

“As a vet Kemp was the best,” Brevin Knight, a teammate of Kemp’s told me on the Heavy Live With Scoop B Show.

HOUSTON, TX – MAY 17: Houston Rockets Charles Barkley player (L) shoots over Seattle SuperSonics defender Shawn Kemp 17 May during first quarter action of game seven of the NBA Western Conference semi-finals at The Summit in Houston Texas. (Photo credit should read PAUL K. BUCK/AFP via Getty Images)

“It’s hard to say who somebody is today’s Shawn Kemp because what Kemp did — if we want to talk about Zion [Willamson] with the way that he jumps and with his athleticism and explosion…but this is the thing that people forget: Kemp could handle, Kemp shot 3’s, Kemp could shoot the dribble pull up, he could play off the mid-post… and Shawn was electric on the offensive side. If you to take it back to an old — because young guys today, the game is so different and it’s hard to to say that who’s today’s guy that looks like before because the game is different. Shawn Kemp was a more athletic Charles Barkley. Same thing but different size of course, but Charles Barkley DOMINATED the basketball game at every level. He wasn’t jumping over the top of everybody, that what Shawn Kemp was doing; he was also jumping over the top of you while playing at every level. I’ll tell you this B, he got to be 300lbs. during the lockout. We came back after the season, Shawn Kemp was 300lbs and STILL was giving out 20 and 10 on a regular basis. People were like why? And I told people because he was better than what you gave him credit for. Y’all just wanted to label him as an athlete; came out of high school and gets lob dunks… What I learned in Cleveland was that this was one of the more skilled athletic players that I’ve ever been around.”

Over the summer, Nate Robinson compared Zion Williamson to Vince Carter. “Zion has Vince Carter hops,” Robinson told me on a recent episode of #WORDSWITHSCOOP Present by Orox Leather.

“It’s like putting Vince Carter hops on Charles Barkley. That’s what it would look like. That’s what Zion is.”

Brevin Knight sees it too. “Zion is definitely something that we have never seen because of his height,” he said.

“But there was a guy that was similar to him as a lefty. His name was Rodney Rogers; who was very similar to what Zion could do with having a physical body but is still one of the most athletic players on the court. Rodney Rogers would take a rebound, dribble the floor, punch it on you or he would pull up and shoot it. So we had seen somebody that looked similar but, we haven’t seen anybody with that type of athleticism to be able to be off the charts the same way.”