Kevaughn Wilson and Paige McGowan
New Orleans Pelicans number one draft pick Zion Williamson made his debut last night against the San Antonio Spurs after missing 44 games due to arthroscopic knee surgery.
Williamson did enough to justify the hype around him as he broke the Pelicans’ record for most points by a rookie on debut.
The record was previously held by Anthony Davis who left the Pelicans last summer in a blockbuster trade with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Pelicans forward also broke the record for the most points scored by an NBA player in their debut game in under 20 minutes in the shot-clock era.
Former basketball player and current NBA analyst Jalen Rose said Zion is bringing something new to the NBA.
“He’s going to bring you enthusiasm, athleticism, he has an underrated handle, and an opportunity to put his team into the playoffs,” said Rose.
The 19-year-old, 6’6 forward had an abysmal start to his career where the rookie struggled to find his shot during the first three quarters, of which he played a little less than 12 minutes.
When the fourth quarter began, he had just five points, four rebounds, an assist and four turnovers.
Williamson then exploded in the fourth quarter, scoring 17 points in just three minutes.
Williamson managed to score 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists during his 18 minutes of play.
Williamson was pulled from the game after playing only six minutes in the fourth quarter due to his minute restriction.
“I didn’t want it, but gotta look at longevity,” he told NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski.
Below is a timeline of Zion’s injury recovery process.
New Orleans head coach Alvin Gentry was hesitant to pull his star forward from the game.
“I’m not the brightest coach in the world, but I wouldn’t have taken him out if I wasn’t told to,” said Gentry in his postgame interview.
The Spurs came out victorious 121-117.
The Pelicans forward said in his postgame conference that his debut went exactly how he expected.
“My Pelicans debut was everything I dreamed of…except for losing,” said Williamson.
Zion will have his next shot of earning his first NBA win on Friday against the Nuggets.