A week from today could potentially be a big day for the NBA. Top overall pick from the 2019 NBA Draft Zion Williamson is expect to make his regular season NBA debut on January 22 when the New Orleans Pelicans welcome — you guessed it — the San Antonio Spurs to town, because of course.
Williamson has missed the entire regular season so far after suffering a knee injury during the preseason against — you guessed it — the Spurs, so it’s only fitting that he return against them in their first meeting of the season (an odd scheduling quirk for divisional rivals who are guaranteed to play each other four times each season).
In their preseason match-up, Williamson bullied his way to a 22-point, 10-rebound double-double in their win. It will be interesting to see how the Spurs approach this match-up. Because LaMarcus Aldridge rested that game, Williamson had his way with the more slender Jakob Poeltl — who has since become one of the best low post defenders in the league.
Although the Pelicans (15-26) currently sit at 14th in the West without Williamson, they are still in that same log jam as the Spurs in the Race for Eight, sitting 3.5 games behind them and four games behind the 8th-seeded Grizzlies (19-22). It may take time for him to develop some chemistry with his teammates, but in a down year for the Western Conference, the playoffs remain in reach if they get hot.