It’s been a long time coming, but Zion Williamson is finally making his NBA debut when the Pelicans take on the Spurs in New Orleans.

Grab your popcorn and strap yourself in.

It’s finally happening…

Zion Williamson is making his NBA debut!

The New Orleans Pelicans take on the San Antonio Spurs in what is the most-anticipated January game in recent memory.

As with anything in the NBA, our first thought here is about the effect on markets. In this case, it’s the Rookie of the Year market.

Zion opened the NBA season as a significant favourite for the award. He’s been a superstar on social media throughout high-school and college with the expectation he would continue down the same path with the big boys.

While he still might go toe to toe with the best players in the world on day one, he will need to put up some incredible numbers to win the ROY from here. He’s certainly capable given what we’ve seen from the 19-year-old so far.

He averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game in 33 games for Duke University.

Williamson then went on to impress throughout his four NBA preseason games before missing the last through injury. He averaged 23.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals while shooting 71.4% from the field and 25% from beyond the arc. Yes, the sample size is small and they came against second-rate teams, but those are ROY numbers if he can match them.

Last Five ROY Winners

YearPlayerPtsRebsAstStlBlkFG%3FG%
2019-20L.Doncic21.27.86.01.10.342.7%32.7%
2018-19B.Simmons15.88.18.21.70.954.5%0.0%
2017-18M.Brogdon10.22.84.21.10.245.7%40.4%
2016-17K.Towns18.310.52.00.71.754.2%34.1%
2015-16A.Wiggins16.94.62.11.00.643.7%31.0%

Creating History

If Williamson is to wrestle the award away from Ja Morant ($1.20), he will need to do it in record time.

He has just 38 games to impress the judges. And that’s if he plays every possible game between now and the end of the regular season.

History is against him regardless.

Patrick Ewing (1985-86) and Vince Carter (1998-99) hold the fewest record games ever for a NBA ROY winner with 50.

It’s a massive ask, and no matter the numbers he puts up, that 38 is one that a lot of fans and voters won’t be able to look past.

Williamson is at $11 to rewrite the record books.

Spurs @ Pelicans

The Pelicans are in fine form winning 11 of their last 16 games to be just 3.5 games out of the 8th seed in the Western Conference. As a result, they are $1.50 favourites to beat the Spurs at $2.63.

While Williamson is sure to attract plenty of attention is his debut, it’s worth considering the little time this group have spent on the court together. A few preseason games three months ago and the odd training recently will more than likely result in a slow start. Meanwhile, the Spurs have won back-to-back games and are playing a lot better over the last month in general.

The result of the game won’t really matter. So long as Williamson gets through it healthy and produces a highlight-reel dunk, NBA fans will be the winners on the day.

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