Three months after offering up a scintillating tease in the preseason, Zion Williamson is finally taking the floor in the regular season for the New Orleans Pelicans.
We've got you covered right here with live updates, stats and highlights.
BOX SCORE | PLAY-BY-PLAY
A refresher on just how good he was in four preseason games:
- 23.3 points per game in just over 27 minutes per game, tied for fourth in the league
- Tied with Zach LaVine for fourth in scoring behind only James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Stephen Curry
- 71.4 percent shooting (1st in the NBA, min. 35 attempts)
- 17.0 points in the paint per game (1st in the NBA)
For any breaks in the action, here's some complimentary reading:
- What are reasonable expectations for Williamson?
- The NBA debuts for Michael Jordan, LeBron James and other legends
- What did Zion say leading up to his first game?
Zion takes over.
So yeah... LOL.
He'll be fine. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Williamson made to date his most aggressive move of the game on a spin and drive that resulted in a missed layup. Although he missed, it represented a change in mentality because in a matter of moments the rookie simply took over.
- A quick drop-off dime to Josh Hart
- A rebound, push in transition and second dime to E'Twaun Moore
- Not one, not two, not three... but FOUR made 3s!
- A catch off an over-the-top alley-oop from Lonzo Ball
- A missed shot on a post but offensive rebound and putback
On two different occassions, Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry called back subs he had at the scorers' table ready to sub in for Williamson.
While at the free throw line at the 5:44 mark, he even received MVP chants from the home crowd.
All-in-all, this is exacty the type of offensive display that made him the No. 1 overall pick back in June.
SEVENTEEN. STRAIGHT. POINTS.- New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) January 23, 2020
Zion cannot be stopped in the 4th quarter 😤 pic.twitter.com/NCG9fHW4OW
Shaky 3:30 to start the third
Williamson started the second half and looked shaky. He had a pair of turnovers while dribbling into defenders and wasn't overly involved. He did score on a nice inside feed from fellow rookie Jaxson Hayes after initially bobbling on the catch.
Overall, it was another quiet stretch for Williamson who looked hesitant while initiating offence. In essence... he looked like a 19-year-old rookie who hasn't played in three months.
Done for the second quarter?
Williamson heads to the bench with 7:40 left in the second quarter. Head coach Alvin Gentry mentioned that Williamson could expect to play in three-six minute spurts meaning this could be it for the first half.
So far, the rookie has two points on 1-2 shooting to go along with three rebounds, an assist and two turnovers. His second turnover of the game came on a charge.
First career bucket
Williamson's first career basket came after securing an offensive rebound and putback with 10:35 left in the second quarter.
Zion Williamson grabs the offensive rebound and lays it in for his 1st NBA bucket!- NBA (@NBA) January 23, 2020
📺: ESPN pic.twitter.com/YBpV3FFROk
According to a report by ESPN's Tom Rinaldi, the interest in attention can be gauged by the media credentials passed out by the Pelicans.
They issued 165 credentials for this game against the San Antonio Spurs, over seven times the amount they typically issue for an average home game in January.
In the first three minutes, Williamson wasted no time making his presence felt even though he didn't score. On the very first possession, Lonzo Ball drove and in part because Williamson drew three defenders collapsing, Ball was able to dump it off to Derrick Favors for a quick two.
Williamson touched the ball on four of the Pelicans' first six possessions, drawing several double teams the last of which led to a nifty assist to a cutting Brandon Ingram who slammed it home.
Zion Williamson hits the cutting Brandon Ingram!@spurs x @PelicansNBA- NBA (@NBA) January 23, 2020
📺: ESPN pic.twitter.com/PNUM6EAQvr
Not that this is too much of a surprise... but look who it is!
Zion Williamson is getting the starting nod alongside Brandon Ingram, Jrue Holiday, Derrick Favors and Lonzo Ball.
The Pelicans also announced that JJ Redick will be available. He was previously listed as questionable with a hamstring strain.
New face in tonight's starting five 👀@ZO2_ @Jrue_Holiday11 @B_Ingram13 @Zionwilliamson @dfavors14 #WontBowDown pic.twitter.com/QVY0FpjFCZ- New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) January 23, 2020
The excitement is building in New Orleans
We're still nearly two hours from tip off and yet New Orleans is gearing up for the big night.
Ready to dance 💪 pic.twitter.com/R2UsPdtRAC- New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) January 21, 2020
.@Zionwilliamson's locker ready for his #Pelicans debut 🔥🔴 pic.twitter.com/MQuC7f94iB- New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) January 22, 2020
BAM! 💥- NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) January 23, 2020
Even Emeril is hyped for Zion's debut tonight 🍳 pic.twitter.com/KHyPTQFXRo
A visual reminder of Zion's scoring
Here's his shot chart from the preseason. We're just going to let those green circles around the rim do the talking.
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