Zion Williamson has never played a game at Madison Square Garden.In fact, none of Duke’s heralded freshmen — Williamson, R.J. Barrett or Cam Reddish — has ever played at the World’s Most Famous Arena. But that will change on Thursday night when No. 2 Duke and Zion Mania meet No. 12 Texas Tech at the Garden (7 p.m., ESPN2). Fans at the game and those watching on TV will be waiting with baited breath for Williamson’s next set of highlight dunks and blocks. “There has never been anyone like Zion at any level,” ESPN’s Jay Bilas told The New York Times this week. “There has never been anyone of his size who can move like him.”
Some 75 NBA scouts watched Williamson, Barrett and Reddish on opening night when they destroyed Kentucky by 34 points in the Champions Classic in Indianapolis. Among those on hand were Knicks President Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry. The Knicks (9-23) currently own the fifth-worst record in the NBA and have a 42 percent chance at a top-4 pick in the NBA Draft, and a 10.5 percent chance at the No. 1 overall pick, per Tankathon.com. Some segment of Knicks fans believe the team should go full-tilt tank in an effort to land Williamson or Barrett, the projected top-2 picks per ESPN and most mock drafts. But although they are fielding a very young team featuring rookies Allonzo Trier, Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson, the Knicks are not fully committed to “Stop Tryin’ for Zion” or to “Give It All Away for R.J.”
Zion hit his head on the backboard on this block ?(via @theACCDN)pic.twitter.com/Q9SziTM0YE — Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 19, 2018
“Tank?” Knicks coach David Fizdale said before the season began. “We will not ever tank.” That, of course, was before Zion truly established himself as Zion, an otherworldly force who is averaging 20.1 points and 9.1 rebounds while making the nightly rounds on SportsCenter’s Top 10.
Knicks fans are dreaming of this(H/t @ShuaibA12 ) pic.twitter.com/8BuOtRpXAC — Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) December 14, 2018
Zion had a dunk fest in Cameron ?pic.twitter.com/J24LKxZTuo— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) November 28, 2018
Knicks execs — and New York fans — will get an up-close look at Williamson on Thursday night when he plays his first game in the Big Apple.Barrett, who leads the team in scoring at 24.5 points per game with 7.1 rebounds, will also make his Garden debut. Let the Mania ensue. Follow Adam Zagoria on Twitter And like ZAGS on Facebook