Zion expected to make NBA debut on Jan. 22

Zion expected to make NBA debut on Jan. 22
By Reuters

15/01/2020 at 20:12Updated 15/01/2020 at 20:13

Zion Williamson's long-awaited NBA debut is scheduled for Jan.

22 against the
San Antonio Spurs.

That home game was revealed as the expected unveiling of the No. 1 overall
draft pick on Wednesday by New Orleans Pelicans general manager David Griffin.

Williamson has missed nearly three months after undergoing surgery on his
right knee just prior to the start of the season. He had the lateral meniscus
repaired on Oct. 21.

"He's getting to the point where we actually believe he's as ready as he
thinks he is so it's moving in the right direction," Griffin said during a
media session.

Griffin said Williamson won't play in back-to-back games but won't be on a
minutes restriction.

"It's not about a hard number," Griffin said of the minutes. "When you return
to play from a serious injury, it's about the burst. He's going to play in a
limited number of bursts and it's subjective and you are going to judge what
he looks like in each burst."

Griffin said the plan is to make sure Williamson goes through an intense
practice between now and the return date. The hope is that Williamson
practices with the team on both Friday and Sunday.

Williamson has been itching to get on the court as the initial prediction was
that he would be sidelined for six to eight weeks.

"While he would have liked to have played already, he was very grateful we
were going to put a target on it because I don't think he gets asked anything
other than 'when are you going to play?'" Griffin said.

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said it will take time to figure out where
Williamson is physically after the inactivity and which other four players
best fit with him on the court.

But knowing he will have Williamson soon was a pleasing development.

"Just to have a target date is a good thing and we'll go from there," Gentry
said in his media session.

Expectations are high for the former Duke star but Gentry thinks keeping
things in perspective is a must.

"Obviously, he's an explosive guy. That's pretty evident when he's practicing.
The big thing to me is being in basketball shape and the feel for the game. He
has a great feel for the game.

"We have to keep in mind he hasn't played in a NBA game. He's played in
preseason games, which doesn't count really. When he walks out there, that
will be the first time he's played."

Williamson shot 71.4 percent while averaging 23.3 points and 6.5 rebounds in
four preseason games.

The Pelicans are 15-26 at the midway point of their schedule. They host the
Utah Jazz on Thursday.

--Field Level Media