Zion Williamson made a high-flying debut in his first NBA preseason game Monday night, finishing with 16 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals in New Orleans’ 133-109 road win over the Atlanta Hawks.
Williamson, 19, thrilled fans with three first-half dunks.
Zion and the Pelicans drew a crowd of 15,441 to an otherwise meaningless exhibition game.
Per The AP:
“This isn’t high school or college anymore,” Williamson said. “You’ve got to go up strong. So I went up strong and I was able to finish.”
Of course, the score was irrelevant. This was chance to see the future of the NBA for the first time — not counting his brief stint in the Las Vegas Summer League — and Williamson did not disappoint, though he’s not close to being a finished product after just one college season at Duke. He missed a pair of 3-point attempts, turned it over four times and looked a bit lost defensively.
“You know me,” he said, breaking into a big smile. “It was a lot of fun. The first NBA game. It’s not going to count against the record. But the first one of hopefully many. I’m glad I could get that one under my belt.”
The Hawks sent out No. 5 pick De’Andre Hunter as part of their starting lineup, and brought 10th selection Cam Reddish — Williamson’s Duke teammate — off the bench. The Pelicans also have No. 8 choice Jaxson Hayes.
“It’s crazy,” Williamson said. “Just a few months ago, we were in college together, just chillin’ and having fun with each other, playing in games, and now we’re pros. It was a different feel for sure. But it was great seeing him.”