Zion Williamson started slow and finished brilliantly in his long-awaited NBA debut. In the process he showed a glimpse of the greatness he's capable of producing on a nightly basis.
The 19-year-old New Orleans Pelicans rookie struggled in the first half. He had just two points and looked slow, stiff and possibly still injured. But when he warmed up late in the second half, the top pick from the 2019 NBA Draft exploded.
In a scintillating stretch of three minutes and eight seconds, Williamson scored 17 straight points for the Pelicans. That included hitting 4 of 4 from three-point range. It was truly an impressive window where he showed his versatility, athleticism and basketball IQ. He finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes.
In the end the Pelicans lost to the San Antonio Spurs 121-117, but given how Zion's final stretch went, the franchise has to feel good about the night.
Here are the highlights:
Obviously, it wasn't perfect. Williamson was explosive at times but in others he looked like he was struggling to carry the 285 pounds on his 6-foot-6 frame. He'll always have that level of athleticism but he may need to drop some of the excess weight in the long-term.
Williamson isn't completely up to speed yet either. He'll be better with time to get used to the NBA, get more minutes under his belt and fit in to the Pelicans' offense. It's a work in progress and clearly he'll need time to improve and develop. Which is understandable, the guy won't even turn 20 until the offseason.
The Pelicans will likely manage Zion's minutes for the next few weeks and there will be some ups and downs. But in that three-minute stretch we saw what he can do.
Zion Williamson has debuted, now let's just enjoy the ride.