Zion Williamson hopes to make his NBA debut on January 22

Zion Williamson was selected by New Orleans as the best overall pick in the NBA draft 209 days ago.

The Pelicans have played 41 games, half of the regular season, all without their precious rookie.

Fans will have to wait seven more days and the team will have to play three more games, but at least now we know when Williamson is expected to make his long-awaited NBA debut after knee surgery in October.

David Griffin, executive vice president of basketball operations for the Pelicans, told reporters on Wednesday that the team anticipates that Williamson will be ready to play on January 22 against the San Antonio Spurs at the Smoothie King Center.

“Everything is moving in the right direction,” Griffin said. “I really believe that he is a radically improved physical version of himself, so frankly we take the extra time to make sure.”

Griffin said the Pelicans want Williamson to practice with the team two more times before playing a game.

Williamson missed five games for Duke after suffering a sprained right knee in February, but returned with full force, averaging 26 points and 8.5 rebounds with 61.6% of shots in four NCAA tournament games.

He averaged 23.3 points with 71.4% of shots in four preseason games with the Pelicans, then missed the preseason finale due to a knee injury.

On October 21, one day before the start of the NBA season, Williamson underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus.

The Pelicans are 15-26, but have won nine of their last 13 games to get four games from a Western Conference playoff spot.

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