Ninety three days ago the New Orleans Pelicans tossed a bucket of cold water on the entire NBA world with a simple but devastating press release: Zion Williamson tore the meniscus in his right knee and would miss six to eight weeks.
Since that dark October day, Pelican fans, indeed all basketball fans, have been waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
Finally, after 93 days, Zion Williamson is making his NBA debut. After Zion was picked in the 2019 Draft, he had a simple message for New Orleans: “Let’s dance.” Well, Zion, it’s time for us all to dance.
The eyes of the basketball world will be on New Orleans. Normally, a Wednesday evening game between a 17-27 Pelicans team and a 19-23 San Antonio Spurs team would hardly be on the national radar. But ESPN moved heaven and earth to flex this game and broadcast it for the entire world to see.
There will be ample questions surrounding Zion and his debut. Does he start, or come off the bench? How many minutes will he be on the court? If the game is tight, is he on the floor in crunch time? How does he mesh with Brandon Ingram? Who’s the first person he puts on a poster?
Regardless of the answers to those questions, we do know one thing: Zion Williamson will be on the court Wednesday.
Lost in all the excitement of Zion’s debut is that the Pelicans are hot! New Orleans has won 11 of its last 16 and just came off an impressive road win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The Pelicans set a franchice record for made threes with 21. Jrue Holiday returned to the floor Monday and had a hell of a game with 36 points and seven made threes. Brandon Ingram, on the other hand, continued to make his case for an All-Star spot and posted a cool 25 points, six assists and four rebounds.
Opposite New Orleans is the Pelicans old division rivals, the San Antonio Spurs. These Spurs aren’t quite the Spurs we’ve seen the past two decades as San Antonio is 19-23 and would be out of the playoffs if the season ended today. The Spurs are one of four teams in front of New Orleans and have gone 5-5 over its past ten games.
DeMar DeRozan leads the Spurs in points with 22.5 and continues to rely on the midrange to get his points. Meanwhile LaMarcus Aldridge continues to give San Antonio a significant post presence and is putting up 19 and 7 on the year.
With all due respect to San Antonio, Wednesday ain’t about them. It’s all about Zion. At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, Wednesday evening could be historic. Zion is the most coveted rookie since LeBron James. We could be watching the next face of the NBA make step onto the court for the first time.
We’ve waited months to see him on the court. Now, it’s finally here.
Indeed, let’s dance!
Where To Watch/Listen
What: New Orleans Pelicans (17-27) vs San Antonio Spurs (19-23)
Where: Smoothie King Center — New Orleans, LA
When: Wednesday, January 22nd, 2019 8:30 PM CST
How: ESPN, FSNO