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The Sideline Observer

Sports and Culture Commentary

Zion, Sit out the Season

A couple years back, Michael Porter Jr. was ranked No. 2 in the high school basketball class of 2017 and projected to be the No.1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. He was going to flourish as a star, but in his first game with the University of Missouri, he injured his lower back and sat out most of the season. Since then, Porter Jr. has fallen from the projected first overall pick in the draft to the No. 14 pick and has yet to play in the NBA because of his back problems.

In the biggest college basketball game of the year thus far, Zion Williamson gave the whole country a scare when he ripped his shoe, fell to the ground, and injured his knee. His mild knee injury then presented a question on his future as a basketball player: should he sit out the rest of the season and prepare for the NBA? Although this is a different circumstance, Williamson should learn from Porter Jr.’s case and sit out the rest of the season.

As of right now, there is no doubt that Zion is going to be the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. A player of Zion’s caliber comes around once every decade and he’s got the potential to be an all-time great, so why risk it in college?

NBA teams are already tanking at unprecedented levels in hopes of drafting him. Playing more college games only threatens the long-term stability of his career and increases his injury risk while jeopardizing his chances to go first overall and reap the benefits of a larger contract. It’s like playing your starting quarterback for all four preseason games: completely pointless.

Zion already has a target on his back. Opposing teams won’t play nice with him. Sure, Zion will probably still dominate them, but all it takes is one dive for the ball, one aggressive foul, or one awkward foot placement to ruin his career.

Zion himself is against sitting out because he just wants to play basketball and “doesn’t want to let his teammates and coach down.” Trust me Zion, no one wants to bail on their teammates especially when they need you, but when you have the opportunity to become an NBA superstar and make millions of dollars compared to the zero of dollars you’re getting paid to play, you can’t risk that.

You’ll be playing basketball for so many years to come, so there is no reason to risk it all over a couple unpaid college games.

So listen, Zion. You’re going to be the No. 1 overall draft pick, become a star, earn a heck of a lot of money, and have your name engraved in the record books. If you sit out now, you’ll have plenty of time to train, learn from professionals, and improve your game for the NBA.

There’s no guarantee you’ll win a championship with Duke, but there is a guarantee that you’ll be putting your career on the line every game you play in a league that doesn’t reward you at all for any record you break or championship you win. It’s not an easy decision, but you shouldn’t risk everything just because you “don’t want to let your team down.

-Mateo Gutierrez

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