The highly-anticipated debut of No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson is upon us, as he is set to take the floor Thursday when the New Orleans Pelicans host the San Antonio Spurs.
Adding to the allure of this meeting is that Williamson joins a Pelicans team that has won 11 of their last 16 to come within 3.5 games of the West's eighth seed. And there are 38 games left in their season.
On the eve of his NBA debut, the 19-year-old spoke with the media for nearly 10 minutes about a wide range of subjects.
LIVE 🎥: Zion Williamson addresses media ahead of Pelicans vs. Spurs on Wednesday night https://t.co/5SmDNQiLeb- New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) January 21, 2020
What did Williamson have to say? From his nerves to his expectations to his love for the game, here are some of his best quotes…
On the reactions he expects from the fans
"I know the people of New Orleans are gonna show a lot of love, 'cause that's what they do but from the outside people… all I can do is just invite the love. If they wanna bring it, then bring it."
On his time in New Orleans so far
"It's been great - the city is beautiful, the people are beautiful as well - they've welcomed me, I feel like they've adopted me a bit. They show love everywhere I go and they just tell me that they can't wait for me to get back out there."
On the difference between this game and his college debut
"I don't know, I think it might be a little different magnitude in this one. It's my first NBA game - this is business now. This is different."
On whether or not there will be a learning curve with his teammates
"I think there will be a learning curve but I don't think it will be nothing dramatic. I think it will be something where, I think we're pros, I think we'll just adapt, maybe after a game or two."
On how good he thinks he can be from Day 1
"Do I even get to determine that, to be honest? My plan, to be honest, is to go out there and just contribute where coach needs me."
On the support of the organization and his family leading to his debut
"They're with me. Through all the hard stuff they're gonna be with me and I think my mom, as well. She always looks at me and goes 'you know, nobody told you this was gonna be easy.' So, it's a part of the journey, I embrace it and now I get to play."
On the confidence gained from his preseason performance against Rudy Gobert and the Jazz
"I mean, it was a great boost for morale, obviously. 'Cause you know, as a rookie, you come in, you don't know what to expect, 'cause you go from college kids to grown men and pros, so, I think for me to have an OK game - I mean, it was preseason, I don't know how serious he was taking it - I feel like I had an OK game, so I think my adjustment won't be as bad."
On the role he's expected to play
"Go help my team win. It's as simple as that."
On watching and playing alongside Brandon Ingram
"I had a lot of fun watching him. In my opinion, I think he's a definite All-Star - I gotta say that - he's come so far in a few months since we started and I'm just looking to feed off of that."
On self-imposed pressure
"I'm not really putting no pressure on it at all. I love to play basketball so I'm just looking to go out there, have fun and compete."
On the toughest part of the process
"I think the rehab workouts. They're long and strenuous, it was a lot of times when I just wanted to punch a wall or kick chairs because it's frustrating to not be able to move your body the way you want to, not to make any athletic movements.
"I mean, it's tough. Especially since I'm 19 and haven't even played my first NBA game so it was tough but I battled through it."
On what he learned from watching on the sideline
"I think it was just the attention to detail on defence. You can always look at a scouting report but I think it's just a matter of the feel of the game, like who you're guarding."
On coming back during the Pelicans' hot streak
"It's very exciting to be coming back during this time. We did go through a bad stretch but things have turned around, everybody's been playing better and I'm just looking to go join in and have the fun."
On whether or not he's nervous
"It's just basketball. This is what I do. I've been doing it since I was four. I'm gonna go out there, have fun and just be there with my teammates."
On the Pelicans' playoff push
"A little bit but if I were to do that I'd be looking a little too far into the future. I think it's just one game at a time and I think that's what's been working for us."