KEY POINTS

  • Zion Williamson could be playing sparingly against the Spurs
  • Pelicans expected to be cautious and not push Williamson in his debut
  • Williamson remains overweight, raising concerns on his health

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, top rookie Zion Williamson will finally play his first NBA game on Jan. 22 against the San Antonio Spurs. The much-hyped no. 1 pick of the 2019 NBA Draft finally gets the chance to dazzle NBA fans in what could very well dictate how far the New Orleans Pelicans will go this 2019-20 season.

Originally, Williamson was set to debut back in October. However, an injury prevented that from happening. Such has been the story of the former Duke Blue Devil with most repeatedly saying that he needs to find a way to trim down. Failure to do so will likely mean more injuries from the player who is the second heaviest NBA player behind Boban Marjanovic of the Dallas Mavericks. Do take note, Williamson is only 6-foot-6 while Marjanovic is a hulking 7-foot-4 center.

As of this writing, the Pelicans are 16-26 in the NBA Western Conference. They can still mathematically make the NBA postseason wars if they string up victories. With Brandon Ingram leading the way, one can only imagine the impact of having two young stars leading the charges of head coach Alvin Gentry. This is perhaps one reason why ESPN altered its TV schedule, opting to air on national TV Williamson's first NBA game over the Denver Nuggets vs. Houston Rockets match, USA Today reported.

Williamson is coming off knee surgery and this could mean a lot of things. While he is known to be a mad dunker, the 19-year-old may opt to take it easy for now. Aside from that, expect Gentry to use him sparingly to avoid aggravating or new injuries. In short, Williamson's debut game may not entirely be an explosive one for obvious reasons.

Either way, one person who is pretty excited to see the promising rookie is Pelicans president David Griffin. He says Williamson is not normal, fully aware that he needs to make adjustments to keep his prized player healthy most of the time, ESPN reported.

“He’s not normal,” Griffin says. “So finding stasis with Zion is the challenge, because he’s 19 years old. He’s still growing. It’s not going to be about a number. It’s going to be about metrics of flexibility and strength and control and all of the different things that we can measure that really are outside of weight.”

The Pelicans host the San Antonio Spurs on Jan. 22 at the Smoothie King Center. Tip-off starts at 9:30 p.m. E.T.