Zion Williamson’s long-awaited NBA debut with the New Orleans Pelicans is just a week away.
Williamson, 19, is expected to play in his first regular season NBA game on January 22 against the San Antonio Spurs in a home game at the Smoothie King Center, according to David Griffin, Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations.
The college phenom was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, but he has been sidelined since October, recovering from a knee injury.
Williamson underwent arthroscopic surgery on a torn right lateral meniscus on October 21, and he was originally given a 6-to-8 week timetable for return. His return puts him past the return estimate, but the Pelicans have been understandably cautious with his health, considering how important he is to the franchise’s future.
While the Pelicans have a 15-26 record and are the 14th-ranked team in the Western Conference, they have played well as of late, winning seven of their last 10 games. They’re only four games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the final playoff spot, and a late run to the playoffs powered by Williamson is not out of the question.
In four preseason games, Williamson averaged 23.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists in only 27 minutes per game. His presence could give the team a much-needed boost.