After playing alongside James for a full season, a brand new NBA rookie was introduced to the idea of playing alongside a once-in-a-lifetime talent. It’s not often that a rookie sees the court with the odds stacked against him. That’s exactly what rookie Ziaire Williams saw when he entered the court against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Of all the rookies in the 2018 NBA Draft, there was perhaps no more unlikely selection than Ziaire Williams. The University of Louisville big man had a lot to think about over the summer: not only had he played his entire career in Louisville, but he’d also been drafted by the Grizzlies, one of the worst teams in the NBA over the past few years.
Memphis Grizzlies rookie Zaire Williams was on a plane to the Philippines when he found out he’d been traded to the Grizzlies. He was on his way to train with the legend Bronny James in his basketball academy in the Philippines, but when he got the call from the team, he had to make a last-minute change.
There has never been a father-son duo in the NBA at the same time before. However, when the Memphis Grizzlies play the Los Angeles Lakers for the first time in 2021–22, we’ll get a little closer to that when LeBron James and rookie Williams, Ziaire are on the floor. Williams was a teammate of Bronny James at Sierra Canyon School during his senior year of high school basketball.
That is, of course, LeBron James Jr. The Sierra Canyon squad included Zaire Wade, the son of former Miami Heat player Dwyane Wade. Williams was the 10th overall selection in the 2021 NBA Draft after a single season at Stanford. The New Orleans Pelicans selected him. However, Memphis’ acquisition of the pick is subject to the start of the next league year. Williams is under pressure to deliver after a disappointing season at Stanford.
For the Cardinals, Ziaire Williams had both good and terrible moments.
Southern California native Ziaire Williams was rated as high as No. 4 in his recruiting class. Rather of going to one of the nation’s well-known one-and-done factories, Williams chose Stanford. In 2019–20, the Cardinal went 20–12 and were destined for some kind of playoff event. Then came the epidemic, which wiped out everything.
Williams had some great moments at Stanford. He became just the second player in program history to record a triple-double. Williams scored 12 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists in a win against Washington on Jan. 7, 2021, which was relocated off-campus due to COVID-19 issues.
He did, however, lose almost a month while undergoing COVID procedures, and when he returned, he was not the same athlete. Williams averaged 7.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in 22.7 minutes per game over his previous seven games, shooting 39.3 percent overall and only 5-for-23 (21.7 percent) from three-point range. In his first 13 games, he averaged 12.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in 30.7 minutes per night.
Stanford finished the season with a 14–13 record and missed the playoffs after losing its last five games. With Bronny and ZWade, it was a difficult adjustment from Williams’ senior season at Sierra Canyon.
Williams will switch from playing with Bronny James to against James’ father.
Alongside only one season between seasons, Ziaire Williams (R) will go from playing with Bronny James (top L) to playing against LeBron James (bottom L). The New Orleans Pelicans selected Williams 10th overall, but he will be moved to the Memphis Grizzlies before the league season starts. | Getty Images/Joe Robbins Getty Images/Christian Petersen | Icon Sportswire/Bob Kupbens
For a sports father, LeBron James is not uncommon. He recently made headlines after confronting an AAU announcer. After objecting to the announcer’s remark that Bronny James had a homecourt call, the King was escorted back to his seat by police.
That occurred in Akron, Ohio during “The Battle: Summer Showcase.” Surprisingly, the gym at LeBron’s old school, St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, carries the name of the elder James.
Williams responded to a question about playing against LeBron after playing with Bronny James during his introduction to the Memphis media. According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the kid seemed to be contemplating the concept for the first time.
“Oh, my God. For sure, that’s going to be a wild night. That suddenly dawned on me; I’m going to play LeBron James. That’s insane.”
Brandon Boston, a former teammate of Bronny’s, was also selected by the Grizzlies. Boston, who was drafted in the second round, was a freshman at Kentucky before entering the NBA draft.
Barring a major rule change, Bronny James will be eligible to join the NBA draft in 2024. If Bronny wants to play in the NBA like his renowned father, LeBron will have to play another three seasons before returning for his 22nd season in 2024–25. Vince Carter is the only NBA player to have appeared in 22 seasons.
Ziaire Williams and Bronny James teamed together to win a regional title.
The Sierra Canyon Trailblazers finished 30–4 and were regional champions in 2019-20. As a senior, Ziaire Williams averaged 15.0 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game. Bronny James, a rookie, appeared in all 34 games and scored 4.1 points per game on average. Bronny is a 6-foot-3 combo guard who tore his meniscus in February and missed the 2020–21 season.
Williams, who stands 6-foot-8 and weighs 185 pounds, is a svelte figure. Before he can take on a heavy burden with the Grizzlies, he’ll need to gain strength. Most mock drafts had Williams falling outside the lottery in the first round, so getting 10th overall was a surprise.
Bronny is ranked 30th in the 2023 graduating class by 24/7 Sports. While playing point guard at Sierra Canyon, he projects as a combo guard and gets good grades for his shooting mechanics. In the summer of 2021, James returned from a knee injury to play AAU basketball.
Ziaire Williams will have the strange experience of playing against one of Sierra Canyon’s team fathers after playing alongside Bronny James. But LeBron James isn’t your typical team father. After all, how many of them have won four NBA championships and been named NBA MVP?
The Los Angeles Daily News, 24/7 Sports, and MaxPreps provided the statistics.
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