Zion Williamson made his long-awaited NBA debut Wednesday night, and to hear some tell it, you might think his Pelicans were facing the Sixers.
Williamson, who was patient and solid through three quarters, exploded in the fourth for 17 points, including making all four of his three-point attempts. It was a head-turning stretch from an obviously special player, which should've been the only takeaway from Wednesday's game.
And yet, somehow, the narrative surrounding Williamson's debut turned into a referendum on ... Sixers point guard Ben Simmons?
Zion Williamson: 1 career game, 4 three-pointers— SportsNation (@SportsNation) January 23, 2020
Ben Simmons: 203 career games, 2 three-pointers pic.twitter.com/vlPiX6TCHs
Took Zion 86 seconds to double Ben Simmons in career threes.— Josh Eberley 🇨🇦 (@JoshEberley) January 23, 2020
Zion already has more 3-pointers than Ben Simmons this season. 😳 pic.twitter.com/2kmOqUMhrt— theScore (@theScore) January 23, 2020
Per @ESPNStatsInfo, Zion Williamson now has twice as many made 3-pointers (four) as Ben Simmons does in his NBA career.— Ben Fawkes (@BFawkesESPN) January 23, 2020
In the moment? Yeah, OK, it's a funny, or at least interesting, stat to note.
But we don't need to do this. Different players have different skillsets. No one wants Zion running a fastbreak instead of Simmons. No one (so far) wants Zion locking up opposing point guards and stars on defense instead of Simmons. And, while he threw a few dimes last night, no one wants Zion looking for open teammates on offense instead of Simmons.
Most important, though, we all knew Zion was bringing a usable jump shot to the NBA. This was an established thing, not a surprise. He made 24 of 71 attempts from deep during his lone year at Duke, and showed a ready willingness to shoot jumpers. It's impressive that he drained his first four from NBA range, but he's a talented player who shows up in big moments.
Simmons never did this at LSU, and thus no one expected the Sixers' young star to start launching from beyond with abandon, which is perfectly fine. He does so many things — the passing, the defense, the speed, the acrobatic scoring — very well.
At this point, it would be nice if Simmons had followed up his offseason hype videos with more in-game jump shots, but he's just not there.
But we can still enjoy Simmons' game for its many glorious moments, while also marveling at the potential game-breaking star Zion can become. It's better, and healthier, that way.