Stars lined up to watch Zion Williamson make his rookie debut with the New Orleans Pelicans Friday night in the NBA Las Vegas Summer League, as the opening night for the Summer League started with Williamson facing his close friend and former teammate RJ Barrett of the New York Knicks.
In attendance to watch the No. 1 draft pick at MGM Resorts were newly added New Orlean Pelicans players Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart. Former Pelicans star Anthony Davis was observing his old team with his new teammate of the Los Angeles Lakers, Lebron James. Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday and Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin were also there to see their draft class in full action.
Williamson started the night by electrifying the crowd with his soaring dunks in the warm-up line as the eager crowd erupted in excitement for the game to begin. New Orleans Pelicans Head Coach Alvin Gentry said Williamson would play approximately 24-28 minutes of the game.
To start his debut, Williamson reminded everyone of his athletic ability as he went up to block a shot that would be called for his first NBA goaltending. Not discouraged by the call, Williamson continued to play tough in the first quarter. The Pelicans rookie ripped the ball out of the hands of two-year New York Knick Kevin Knox and turned around to viciously dunk the ball and end with a bicep flex to the crowd.
In the second half, Williamson suffered a knee-to-knee collision, and he did not return for the rest of the game. Before the crash, Williamson played nine minutes and scored 11 points, 4 rebounds, and was 3-6 from the free-throw line and 4-9 from the field. The Pelicans were leading the Knicks in the fourth quarter 80-74 until the game was delayed and then postponed because of an unexpected earthquake that shook the arena.
Even though the injury is not of any seriousness, the Pelicans will sit out Williamson for the remainder of the Summer League, to avoid risking further injury. Coach Gentry is not worried about Williamson missing Summer League and is still confident the Pelicans rookie will live up to his high potential.
“If he played great or didn’t play great, it doesn’t really matter,” Gentry said. “We know what we got, and know where he’ll get to. You have to understand, for the last six weeks, he’s been on tour. He hasn’t been able just to settle down and work out and do what he loves best and that’s play basketball. He’s going to be great, and I’m not worried about it.”
Even though fans are sad they will not be able to witness a sneak peek of Williamson this summer, rest assured he will be returning healthy and ready to contribute to the Pelicans upcoming season.