Duke big man Zion Williamson joined his Duke teammates, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish, by declaring himself eligible for the NBA Draft.

Zion Williamson Duke
Zion Williamson of Duke playing in an ACC regular season conference game at Cameron Stadium in Durham, NC. (Image: USA Today Sports)

Zion Williamson, who won the Wooden Award and Naismith Award for top player in the country, is expected to become the first pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

In his freshman season with Duke, Zion averaged 22.6 points and 8.9 rebounds. He shot 68 percent from the field including numerous highlight reel dunks.

Zion averaged 26.4 points over his final seven games, which included the ACC Tournament and March Madness.

Duke failed to advance to the Final Four when they lost in the Elite 8 to Michigan State. In his final collegiate game, Zion scored 24 points and pulled down 14 rebounds.

Tanking for Zion

The New York Knicks (17-65) have been a disaster all season. Despite finishing with the worst record in the NBA, Forbes declared the Knicks as the league’s most-lucrative franchise valued at $4 billion.

The Knicks are hoping they win the top pick in the lottery to draft Zion. When he played a game at MSG earlier in the year, Zion mentioned he’d love to come play for the Knicks.

The Knicks have enough cap space to lure top free agents, like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, to join Zion. But will they be willing to put up with the antics of billionaire owner James Dolan?

The Phoenix Suns (19-63), Cleveland Cavs (19-63), and Chicago Bulls (22-60) were the bottom feeders of the NBA this past season. They would all love to add Zion to their ranks. Which one will win the pick of a lifetime?

Sneaker Moolah

Zion Williamson will eventually sign a max-rookie contract and receive a signing bonus. He will become a millionaire overnight, but he’s on the cusp of becoming a billionaire if he plays his cards right.

Zion is also expected to sign a lucrative endorsement deal with a sneaker company. He has multiple companies courting him already including Nike, Puma, Adidas, New Balance, and Under Armour. The deal would be done before the NBA Draft in order to leverage high exposure for their newest pitchman.

“If Zion doesn’t change, I predict that he will be the first basketball athlete at 18 years old that the world is rooting for to become a billionaire,” said Sonny Vaccaro. “I say billionaire, very easily. He is going to have an opportunity to be the face of every company and every major corporation. He is the most marketable person I’ve seen, for a lot of different reasons.”

In 1984, Nike paid Michael Jordan $500,000 to become their new pitchman. The sum seemed ridiculous at the time, but we know now how much of a bargain they got by locking up the greatest player of all time before he even played an NBA game.

LeBron James, who went directly to the NBA out of high school, reportedly turned down a $100 million contract from Reebok. LeBron signed a seven-year deal with Nike worth $87 million.

After suffering from a sneaker blowout against North Carolina, Zion fans eagerly await to see the future design for his signature sneaker.

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