Zion Williamson "will be playing" in the New Orleans Pelicans' season opener against the Brooklyn Nets on Oct. 19, as Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported on the Pat McAfee Show on Tuesday:
Pat McAfee @PatMcAfeeShow
"The Nets open the season against the Pelicans & Zion will be playing" ~<a href="https://twitter.com/ShamsCharania?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ShamsCharania</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PMSLive?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PMSLive</a> <a href="https://t.co/baZwa9NfIL">pic.twitter.com/baZwa9NfIL</a>
Though the game won't be on national television, it became a more high-profile matchup after Kevin Durant agreed to remain with the Brooklyn Nets following months of trade speculation.
It will also be Williamson's first game in over 17 months after he missed the entire 2021-22 season because of a foot injury.
The forward was cleared to play without restrictions in May.
The missed time created concerns about his future with the Pelicans, but he signed a five-year designated rookie extension this offseason that could pay him up to $231 million.
The 2019 No. 1 overall pick carries lofty expectations into 2022-23. He excelled the last time he was healthy, averaging 27.0 points and 7.2 rebounds per game while shooting 61.1 percent from the field on the way to his first All-Star selection.
Williamson rejoins a team that made a late charge to the playoffs, taking the No. 1-seeded Phoenix Suns to six games in the first round. Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum can provide a lot of scoring from the perimeter, opening plenty of space for Williamson to work in the post.
Even in a deep Western Conference, the Pelicans have the talent to compete with almost anyone.
The opening matchup against the Nets could be an excellent opportunity for New Orleans to prove itself as a contender in 2022-23.