Zion Williamson has been declared the best NBA prospect since Anthony Davis, or even Kevin Durant, depending on who you ask. Saying that teams have been tanking for Zion doesn’t really mean much anymore, but the bottom eight teams have been eagerly awaiting the NBA draft lottery since Zion’s first track meet (but with dunks) in November. He’s both the consensus number one overall pick and as close as a sure thing to a franchise overhaul as a prospect can be. But where Zion ends up team-wise could turn out to be less notable than his forthcoming negotiation for an apparel deal.
Sneaker legend Sonny Vaccaro—the same guy who signed Michael Jordan to Nike—has lofty expectations for Zion’s career as the face of sneaker brand. “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. I say billionaire, very easily,” Vaccaro told ESPN. “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.”
This take has a little bit more mustard on it when you consider that the performance sneaker category has been on the decline since 2015. But the reality is that the performance category is more uncertain than ever, which is what makes the 18-year-old’s decision that much more interesting.