NBA

Five things to look out for in Zion Williamson's NBA debut

By Sports Desk January 15, 2020

Zion Williamson is finally ready to make his NBA bow in one of the most highly-anticipated debuts of all time.

Forward Williamson was the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft after dazzling as a college star in his only season at Duke.

The New Orleans Pelicans won the draft lottery and selected Williamson, but the franchise has yet to see the benefits of that on the court, with the 19-year-old suffering a knee injury during preseason in October.

The wait will soon be over, though, and we've taken a look at some of the things to keep an eye on, with Williamson set to debut against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, January 22.

 

DUNKS, BLOCKS AND HIGHLIGHT-REEL PLAYS

In today's social-media age, Williamson was already considered a superstar long before he even arrived at Duke.

The NBA has perhaps never seen anyone that big (6ft 6ins, 284 pounds) who is also that athletic, with Williamson regularly rushing down the court and rising above the rim to deliver devastating slams and brutal blocks.

His pre-game feats have already got more traction on Twitter and Instagram than some NBA stars' in-game shots so expect social media to be abuzz whenever Williamson wows.

COUNTING THOSE MINUTES

The Pelicans would dearly love to have Williamson on the floor for as long as possible, but they also need to be smart.

He has not played a game at all in three months and it is 10 months since he last played a competitive one, when he was unable to prevent Duke from losing to Michigan State at the Elite Eight stage of March Madness.

Pels head coach Alvin Gentry has already confirmed there will be a "minutes restriction" in place for Williamson, but it might be difficult to leave him on the bench for too long if he starts living up to the hype straight away.

 

CELEB SPOTTING

NBA courtsides are home to the rich and famous and Pels homes games will soon be the hottest ticket in town thanks to the legend of Zion.

Former US president Barack Obama was in attendance when Duke played North Carolina during Williamson's sole season with the Blue Devils.

Boxing great Floyd Mayweather Jr. and rapper Jay-Z also rocked up to Duke games to see what all the fuss was about and the interest will only grow now Williamson is in the pros.

BUT WHAT ABOUT BRANDON?

With Williamson sidelined, another former Duke star, Brandon Ingram, has come to the fore for Gentry's team.

Ingram was one of those traded to New Orleans as part of the package that saw Anthony Davis join the Los Angeles Lakers and, away from the City of Stars, the 22-year-old has been able to shine.

The small forward is averaging 25.1 points - the 11th best in the NBA this season.

That number will surely take a hit when Williamson returns but New Orleans will hope Ingram can still flourish alongside their top draft pick in a league littered with dynamic duos.

 

GETTING HIS KICKS

The previous US president did not see much of Williamson due to an injury the teenager sustained after his Nike shoe came apart.

That did not prevent him from signing with the sportswear giant's Jordan brand, though, in a deal reportedly worth $75million across seven years.

The sneakers worn by basketball stars are always the subject of great interest and the kicks Zion first dons will be of particular interest, especially after the incident in the North Carolina game.

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