Zion Williamson made a big impression in the night from Wednesday to Thursday (Dutch time) with his long-awaited debut in the NBA. The nineteen-year-old basketball player made 22 points for New Orleans Pelicans.
Williamson was the first in the draft to be chosen by the Pelicans last year, after confirming in one season at Duke University that he is a unique talent.
Basketball enthusiasts in the United States therefore eagerly awaited Williamson's first NBA game, but the 1.98-meter-tall and 129-kilo-heavy American sustained a knee injury in October, just before the start of the regular season.
The forward had to undergo surgery and was out for three months, but on Wednesday he was allowed to make his first minutes in the home game with San Antonio Spurs in the best basketball competition in the world.
Williamson did not disappoint with 22 points, 4 three-pointers, 7 rebounds and 3 assists, but the Pelicans did lose with 117-121. In the fourth quarter he made no fewer than seventeen points in a row for New Orleans in a period of 3 minutes and 8 seconds.
"It went as I dreamed, except that we didn't win," Williamson responded, setting a club record for most points on an NBA debut. "The fans created a great atmosphere. I am very grateful to them."
Zion Williamson missed only three of his eleven shots against San Antonio Spurs. (Photo: Pro Shots)
Many comparisons with LeBron James
Williamson is strong, fast and very explosive, and is often compared in the US with Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James.
The now 35-year-old James made 25 points on behalf of Cleveland Cavaliers on his NBA debut. Williamson was three points less on Wednesday, but on the authority of the Pelicans' medical staff, he only got 18 minutes of play time.
The 'rookie' was taken out of the field by Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry with more than five minutes on the clock in the last quarter. The Spurs benefited and took the win. "The medical staff told me that Zion was ready for today. So I wasn't going to bring him in anymore," said Gentry.
"It was very difficult for me to be taken out," said Williamson. "I'm nineteen. At that time I wasn't thinking about the future, I wanted to win the competition."
The Pelicans are only twelfth in the Western Conference and do think about the future. With Williamson as a star, they hope to become the title candidate in the coming years. "Everyone has seen today that Zion has a lot, a lot of potential," said Gentry.
@ Zionwilliamson didn't miss from distance, going 4-for-4 in the fourth quarter during his 17-point scoring stretch!Avatar
For the app's users: click on the tweet to view the highlights of Zion Williamson's performance,