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Why Zion Williamson vs. Ja Morant is the next great NBA rivalry

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Why Zion Williamson vs. Ja Morant is the next great NBA rivalry

Everyone knows the name Zion Williamson. He's grown bigger than college basketball, whether you like it or not.

But the beauty of March is not in the goliaths, but the Davids; a chance to stand on the top pedestal and garner the attention they deserve.

Enter, Ja Morant. A star in his own right and the future rival of Duke phenom Williamson, who just so happened to grab your attention with a triple-double in No. 12 seed Murray State's first round over No. 5 seed Marquette.

Now, I'm not sure whether "Ja vs. Zion" has a nice ring to it, or sounds more like a bad, low-budget superhero movie on SyFy. "As the evil Ruler of All Attention, King Zion tries to hold on to his reign of college basketball, while Ja, the leader of underdogs and hero of The State of Murray, looks to dethrone the mighty ruler and take his place as leader of the Madness of March realm".

Ugh, yeah it's definitely a bad movie title, but also on it's way to being a great rivalry in the NBA. 

Zion will likely go No. 1 overall, and Ja should be No. 2.

From highlight dunks like this...

Or quotes from NBA MVP's like this from Steph Curry..

That transition to the NBA isn't going to be difficult at all for him

Morant is showing this isn't just a one-star NBA Draft coming this summer.

First, think of the storylines. "Superstar from basketball powerhouse against a small-school player with a chip on his shoulder".  That's what made Manning vs. Brady great for years (except for the whole small school thing, just replace that with "late round draft pick". You get the idea).

Imagine these two in the dunk contest next year, rebuilding interest among bored NBA fans. HINT: this is where you insert that wide eyes emoji for extra emphasis.

If "Zion vs. Ja" (okay, it's starting to sound better already) is a matchup of the No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks, every game is a comparison of the two. Every matchup is one trying to show up the other. Every postgame interview is about how their new rival played and what it means for their future in the NBA. 

Oh, and FYI: Zion and Ja played on the same AAU team.

Can't make this stuff up folks. 

Neither Williamson nor Morant is afraid of the spotlight. In fact, they both embrace it. They also embrace the responsibilities that come with it, which is why the two seem destined for stardom at the next level.

Right now "Zion vs. Ja" or "Ja vs. Zion" may sound like a bad movie title, but soon it'll be the next great rivalry in the NBA, and it has all the storylines to guarantee it being a box office hit. 


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Report suggests Barack Obama is trying to recruit Masai Ujiri to Wizards

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Report suggests Barack Obama is trying to recruit Masai Ujiri to Wizards

The Wizards are reportedly preparing to make Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri a massive offer to run Washington's NBA franchise. And they may have some big-time help recruiting him to D.C. 

Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, is trying to persuade Ujiri to leave the NBA champions to join the Wizards, according to The Athletic's Ethan Strauss. 

"I hear Barack Obama's a part of that whole Masai recruitment to D.C.," Strauss said on a recent episode of the "Back To Back" podcast. "I've heard Obama wants Masai in D.C. Obama wants to do something with basketball."

Obama and Ujiri are close friends. Obama was in attendance at Game 2 of the NBA Finals in Toronto, while Ujiri attended the White House Correspondents' Dinner in 2015 when Obama was in office. 

The Wizards' potential offer for Ujiri is reportedly for six years, $60 million, and could possibly include an ownership stake in Monumental Sports & Entertainment and other responsibilities within the company, sources have told NBC Sports Washington. 

And hey, it doesn't hurt to have the former Commander in Chief making your sales pitch.


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Sekou Doumbouya visits Wizards hoping to sell them on his defense

Sekou Doumbouya visits Wizards hoping to sell them on his defense

WASHINGTON -- The Wizards hosted one of their final prospect workouts in anticipation of the June 20 NBA Draft on Friday, as six players battled in three-on-three drills with every member of Washington's front office and coaching staff in sight. But behind the glass wall of the dining lounge at the Wizards' practice facility at St. Elizabeth's was the player everyone wanted to see.

Sekou Doumbouya, who is projected to land in the lottery on draft night, made a visit to Washington to speak with Wizards personnel. He did not participate in the workout, but through face-to-face interviews gave the Wizards an up-close look at a player who may or may not be on the board when they are on the clock with the ninth overall pick.

Doumbouya is the youngest player in the draft at just 18 years old, with his birthday not until late December. He is originally from Guinea but played professional basketball in France. Given his age and the fact he played in a second-tier league before making the leap to the NBA, Doumbouya holds some mystery as a prospect.

In his meetings with teams, Doumbouya has tried to hammer home one point in particular.

"My defense," he said. "I can play everywhere [because] if you play defense, you can play everywhere in the league."

Defense certainly stands out when it comes to Doumbouya's potential. He is 6-foot-9 with a reported 7-foot-2 wingspan. At his age, he could keep growing. And at that size, he has the mobility to guard multiple positions, force turnovers and maybe even block some shots.

The Wizards need help with just about every area of their defense. They were 27th in defensive rating last season and 29th in points allowed. They couldn't defend the perimeter or the lane, allowing the fourth-highest three-point percentage (37%) and the fifth-most three-point makes (12.1/g), while also allowing more field goals within five feet of the rim than any team (22.1/g) and the third-highest percentage (64.2%) in that range. 

Doumbouya projects as the type of defensive anchor who could help in a variety of ways. He could step out to guard three-point shooters while also clogging lanes to the basket with his length.

The questions for Doumbouya center around how NBA-ready he is at his age and experience, and what his ceiling will ultimately be on the offensive end. Doumbouya, though, believes he can be especially effective in transition.

"Fastbreak," he said when listing his strengths. "I love running [the floor]."

Whether Doumbouya will be available at the ninth pick depends on who you ask. Most mock drafts have him at nine or lower, but his athleticism and versatility could entice a team that picks before the Wizards.

The Hawks, whom Doumbouya met with the day after seeing the Wizards, are a team to watch. They have the eighth, 10th and 17th picks in the first round, so they can afford to take a risk. They could snag Doumbouya at No. 8, then go with a safer pick or two with their other selections.

But there is a very good chance Doumbouya is the best player available when the Wizards get set to make their pick. If he does, defense will be his biggest selling point.