Zion Williamson Is Like 'Prime Charles Barkley' Says Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has joined the chorus of Zion Williamson fans, suggesting the New Orleans Pelicans star is a modern-day Charles Barkley.

Williamson arrived into the NBA surrounded by the kind of hype and expectations not seen around a rookie since LeBron James made his professional debut in 2003, but a serious knee injury suffered in preseason sidelined him until late January.

Since making his debut, however, the first overall pick of the 2019 draft has wasted no time in making his presence felt. Williamson has played 12 games so far, averaging 22.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game in just 28.1 minutes per game.

"Probably Charles Barkley," Golden State head coach said on Sunday when asked whom Williamson reminded him of, as per NBC Sports Bay Area.

"If you look back at Charles when he was in his prime. That kind of explosiveness with the strength. The ability to kind of get down hill, be a one man wrecking crew. That would be the first guy to come to mind for me."

Selected with the fifth overall pick in the 1984 NBA draft, Barkley made the NBA All-Rookie First Team in his debut season in the league after averaging 14 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 28.6 minutes on the court.

The 11-time All-Star's production increased dramatically in his sophomore season, in which he averaged 20 points, 12.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game.

Williamson was a human wrecking ball during his solitary season with Duke and any concerns that his explosiveness may have been dented by his injury have proved unfounded so far.

"In the NBA, almost everybody out there is an incredible athlete and Zion stands above the crowd, literally and figuratively," Kerr continued.

"He gets rebounds you don't think he can get. He slices in from the weak side and covers so much ground. He's explosive and powerful. I'm just glad for him and New Orleans that he's healthy and playing."

Kerr had a first-hand taste of Williamson's impact on Sunday night, as the Warriors lost 115-101 at home to the Pelicans.

The rookie finished with 28 points, seven rebounds and two assists in 33 minutes, marking his eighth consecutive game with 20 or more points, the longest stretch by any rookie in the NBA this season.

With New Orleans trailing by 10 at halftime Williamson rallied the troops in the locker room, displaying the kind of leadership and maturity that belies his age.
"He isn't your typical 19-year-old," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry was quoted as saying by ESPN. "He's a very mature kid, very respectful of his teammates and they are very respectful of him as well. He is all about winning. Just winning."

The win was New Orleans' second in a row and improved its record to 25-32, leaving the pelicans 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies, who currently hold the final playoff berth in the Western Conference.

The Warriors, meanwhile, have now lost six games on the bounce and are rock bottom of the Western Conference with a 12-45 record—the worst in the entire league.

Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans
Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans stands on the court during their game against the Golden State Warriors at Chase Center on February 23 in San Francisco, California. Ezra Shaw/Getty