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The free-throw line dunk: Did Zion Williamson do it better than Michael Jordan and Dr. J?

Zion Williamson was listed at 275 pounds when he played for Spartanburg (S.C) Day last season. His listed measurement by Duke is 6-foot-6, 285, making him massive by college standards and would make him the second heaviest player in the NBA.
Zion Williamson was listed at 275 pounds when he played for Spartanburg (S.C) Day last season. His listed measurement by Duke is 6-foot-6, 285, making him massive by college standards and would make him the second heaviest player in the NBA. AP

We already knew Duke freshman Zion Williamson could dunk from the free-throw line. He’s done it in any number of YouTube videos.

But when Duke listed the 6-foot-6 wing man’s weight at 285 pounds, some basketball observers wondered whether the No. 5 overall recruit in the 2018 class was getting too beefy. He’s 10 pounds heavier now than his listed high school weight. And if he entered the NBA right now, he’d amazingly be its second heaviest player.

But don’t count Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski among those concerned.

“His lateral movement and speed and anticipation is off the charts. He can drive, he can post up, he understands the game really well,” Krzyzewski said in a conference call last week ahead of the team’s Canadian exhibition tour. “I know that everyone has watched him on YouTube with all the dunking and obviously that’s impressive, but he’s a heck of a basketball player.”

Williamson answered the doubters with another emphatic free-throw line dunk in Toronto posted by Duke and other outlets Tuesday that shows he hasn’t lost much in the way of explosiveness.

In fact, it can be argued Williamson’s Tuesday free-throw line dunk is more impressive than Michael Jordan’s or Julius Erving’s iconic jams.

On Tuesday, Williamson clearly launched with his toe on the stripe and barely, if at all, touching the paint of the key. Both Jordan’s and Erving’s dunks from the peaks of their careers were launched with some toes in the paint.

Still don’t think so? Consider this: The 6-foot-6 Jordan’s playing weight on NBA.com’s history pages is listed at 216. The 6-7 Erving’s is listed at 210. That’s a lot less mass to move. Jordan was 23 and 24 when he launched his iconic dunks. Irving was 26 and 34 for his All-Star Game weekend dunks. Williamson is 18.

Duke begins its Canada tour against Ryerson on Wednesday. Kentucky gets its shot at the Blue Devils in the season opener on Nov. 6 in Chicago.

John Calipari tried to bring perspective to UK’s dominating play in the Bahamas. (Photo by Chet White of UK Athletics)

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