Pelicans’ Zion Williamson expected to debut Jan. 22 against Spurs

Jan. 15 (UPI) — New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson — the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft — is expected to make his debut against the San Antonio Spurs Jan. 22 in New Orleans.

Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin announced Williamson’s projected debut date Wednesday.

Williamson had surgery on the meniscus in his right knee Oct. 21. He was initially given a timetable to return of six to eight weeks. Jan. 22 would be the 13-week mark after his surgery. Williamson returned to full practices Jan. 2. He returned to five-on-five drills Jan. 7.

The former Duke star averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game in his lone season for the Blue Devils. He averaged 23.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game during the NBA preseason.

“This process has been one that has been really, really good,” Griffin told reporters. “We’ve learned a lot about him. We’re getting the point where we think he is as ready as he thinks he is. We’re moving in the right direction.”

Griffin said Williamson will continue to get practice reps and have a more intense practice Friday or Sunday as the team waits for the rookie to be medically cleared.

The Pelicans (15-26) face the Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies before battling San Antonio at 8 p.m. EST Wednesday, Jan. 22 in New Orleans.