On Wednesday night, former Duke star Zion Williamson made his NBA debut. The New Orleans Pelicans hosted the San Antonio Spurs in a pivotal Western Conference clash.
Both the Pelicans and the Spurs are vying for the final playoff spot in the conference. While Zion was the major headline entering the game, the Spurs spoiled his debut with a win.
However, Williamson still showed why he was the first overall pick in the draft. After struggling through the first three quarters, Zion exploded for 17-straight points in the fourth quarter.
Everyone wanted to get a glimpse of what Zion could be, and we finally saw that last night.
After three months without the league’s top pick, the NBA reaped the rewards of Zion’s appearance. ESPN released the ratings from Wednesday night’s game and, of course, they were huge.
According to ESPN’s Ben Cafardo, the game averaged 2.35 million viewers – marking an 88-percent viewership jump from last year’s comparable game.
👀Impressive numbers for #Zion's debut on ESPN (Fast Nationals from Nielsen):
📺2,357,000 viewers. Peaked w/2,777,000.
⬆️Viewership up 88% vs last year's comparable game.
🏀1.6 US rating, matching ESPN's highest-rated NBA game this season (Non-XMas). Up 100% year over year. pic.twitter.com/9ZSbz6zGQv
— Ben Cafardo (@Ben_ESPN) January 23, 2020
Zion was huge for ratings at Duke, so this is no surprise for fans who have watched Williamson over the past few years.
Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry said Williamson felt good on Thursday after the game and went through a full practice. It’s good news for Pelicans fans who want to see their star on the court.
Next up for New Orleans is a home contest against the Denver Nuggets.