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New Orleans Pelicans

How will Zion Williamson's regular season debut compare to NBA legends?

Zion Williamson's NBA debut is among the most anticipated in NBA league history.

The anticipation grew after his spectacular preseason in which he averaged 23.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists on 71.4% shooting from the field.

Unfortunately, Williamson has been sidelined since the team's fourth preseason game due to a torn right lateral meniscus that required arthroscopic surgery. But after missing the last three months, Williamson will log his first NBA minutes against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, January 22.

Before he does, here's a look at how NBA legends fared in their regular-season debut.

Michael Jordan

Stat line: 16 points (5-16 FGs), 7 assists, 6 rebounds and 4 blocks vs. Washington Bullets (109-93, W)

Arguably the greatest player of all-time, Jordan, drafted 3rd overall in the 1984 Draft, began his NBA career with a win. In 40 minutes, he did a little bit of everything as the Bulls comfortably beat the Bullets.

Jordan went on to average 28.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.4 steals to win the 1985 Rookie of the Year Award.

LeBron James

Stat line: 25 points (12-20 FGs), 9 assists, 6 rebounds and 4 steals vs. Sacramento Kings (92-106, L)

"The King" made his debut on the road in Sacramento. Although it came in a loss, his numbers were impressive for an 18-year-old, especially given the spotlight that was on him.

Drafted No. 1 overall in 2003, James went on to win the 2004 Rookie of the Year award with season averages of 20.9 points, 5.9 assists and 5.5 rebounds.

Shaquille O'Neal

Stat line: 12 points (4-8 FGs), 18 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 assists vs. Miami Heat (110-110, W)

Shaq recorded the first of his 658 career double-doubles in his debut. He hit the ground running with the Magic, an organisation that had only been in the NBA for three seasons before it drafted Shaq No. 1 overall in the 1992 Draft.

Failing to win more than 31 games before him, the Magic never won less than 41 during Shaq's four seasons in Orlando. He was named 1993 Rookie of the Year with averages of 23.4 points, 13.9 rebounds and 3.5 blocks.

Magic Johnson

Stat line: 26 points (10-21 FGs), 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 blocks vs. San Diego Clippers (103-102, W)

It took a skyhook from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to win it, but Johnson's debut ended in a 1-point victory over the Clippers. He sure didn't look like a rookie with a near double-double to go along with 4 assists and 4 blocks.

Johnson did more of the same later in his rookie year, when he was named Finals MVP with championship-clinching near 40-point triple-double in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals.

Magic, however, lost the Rookie of the Year award to Larry Bird despite averages of 18.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 2.4 steals.

Larry Bird

Stat line: 14 points (6-12 FGs), 10 rebounds and 5 assists vs. Houston Rockets (114-106, W)

In comparison to his friend Magic, Bird's first game was more subdued, although he contributed across the board in a relatively easy win for the Celtics.

He would go on to win the 1980 Rookie of the Year award with averages of 21.3 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.7 steals.

Wilt Chamberlain

Stat line: 43 points (17-27 FGs), 28 rebounds and 1 assist vs. New York Knicks (118-109, W)

Chamberlain's 43 points in his first game is the most by any player in their debut in NBA history. He went on to win the 1960 Rookie of the Year award with league-leading averages of 37.6 points and 27.0 rebounds.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Stat line: 29 points (12-27 FGs), 12 rebounds and 6 assists vs. Detroit Pistons (119-110, W)

The No. 1 pick of the 1970 draft, Abdul-Jabbar played all 48 minutes in his debut and finished on the winning side with an admirable stat line.

He finished his rookie season with averages of 28.8 points, 14.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists - numbers that won him the 1971 Rookie of the Year award.

Hakeem Olajuwon

Stat line: 24 points (11-18 FGs), 9 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 block vs. Dallas Mavericks (121-111, W)

Olajuwon was picked No. 1 overall in the famous 1984 NBA Draft and didn't disappoint in his debut with a near double-double.

Olajuwon went on to win the Rookie of the Year award with season averages of 20.6 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.7 blocks while playing all 82 games (league-high).

Tim Duncan

Stat line: 15 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks vs. Denver Nuggets (107-96, W)

Duncan set the tone for the rest of his career with an efficient and game-impacting double-double in his debut.

Drafted No. 1 overall in 1997, Duncan won the Rookie of the Year award with averages of 21.1 points, 11.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.5 blocks while playing all 82 games.

Kobe Bryant

Stat line: 0 points, 1 rebound, 0 assists, 0 steals and 1 block vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (91-85, W)

The Black Mamba had a forgettable 9-minute NBA debut. Who would have predicted the 20-year NBA career that he had based on his first game?

Bill Russell

Stat line: 6 points, 16 rebounds and 1 assist vs. St. Louis Hawks (95-93, W)

To nobody's surprise, the winningest NBA player of all-time began his career with a win.

One surprise, though: Russell lost out to teammate Tom Heinsohn for Rookie of the Year.

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