Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Zion Williamson will make his long-awaited NBA regular-season debut on Wednesday night, and it sounds like the New Orleans Pelicans will not set a strict minutes restriction at the onset. Not only that, Williamson is expected to be in the starting lineup against the San Antonio Spurs.

There has long been a belief that the Pelicans, after exercising extreme caution with the team’s No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft following his preseason knee injury, would put a minutes restriction on Williamson as the team eases the rookie back into playing. That will not be the case, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN.

That said, the Pelicans will nevertheless monitor Williamson’s time on the court, as the team hopes to keep his time on the court in the range of 15-20 minutes.

It makes perfect sense that the Pelicans want to start Williamson, despite his 44-game layoff due to an extended rehab following surgery on a torn meniscus. That being said, there is also no reason to put too much pressure on the rookie, hence the plan to monitor his minutes early on by easing him back into the rotation.

Last week, Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin mentioned how the team has its hands full in attempting to responsibly manage the rookie’s growth and development. Griffin made note of how the “not normal” Williamson somehow managed to put on eight pounds of muscle during a team-wide, offseason weightlifting regimen that lasted only one week.

Given the myriad factors such a unique talent like Williamson presents, expect the Pelicans to adapt their plan for the young star as the situation evolves during his rookie season.

This article first appeared on Sportress of Blogitude and was syndicated with permission.

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Can you name every No. 1 overall NBA draft pick in the lottery era?
2019 / NO
Zion Williamson
2018 / PHX
Deandre Ayton
2017 / PHI
Markelle Fultz
2016 / PHI
Ben Simmons
2015 / MIN
Karl-Anthony Towns
2014 / CLE
Andrew Wiggins
2013 / CLE
Anthony Bennett
2012 / NO
Anthony Davis
2011 / CLE
Kyrie Irving
2010 / WAS
John Wall
2009 / LAC
Blake Griffin
2008 / CHI
Derrick Rose
2007 / POR
Greg Oden
2006 / TOR
Andrea Bargnani
2005 / MIL
Andrew Bogut
2004 / ORL
Dwight Howard
2003 / CLE
LeBron James
2002 / HOU
Yao Ming
2001 / WAS
Kwame Brown
2000 / NJ
Kenyon Martin
1999 / CHI
Elton Brand
1998 / LAC
Michael Olowokandi
1997 / SA
Tim Duncan
1996 / PHI
Allen Iverson
1995 / GSW
Joe Smith
1994 / MIL
Glenn Robinson
1993 / ORL
Chris Webber
1992 / ORL
Shaquille O'Neal
1991 / CHA
Larry Johnson
1990 / NJ
Derrick Coleman
1989 / SAC
Pervis Ellison
1988 / LAC
Danny Manning
1987 / SA
David Robinson
1986 / CLE
Brad Daugherty
1985 / NYK
Patrick Ewing

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