Basketball: Star New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson shines in NBA debut

Superstar New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson gave fans a glimpse of his special talent during his highly anticipated NBA debut on Thursday (NZT).

The Duke-product was the consensus No.1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, after a sensational one-year college campaign that saw him become the most hyped prospect since LeBron James.

Knee surgery scuppered the opening half of his rookie season, but his first game provided a dazzling reminder why he'd been considered a franchise-changing player.

Though limited to "short bursts" of court time by coach Alvin Gentry, the 19-year-old followed a quiet first half by a fourth-quarter explosion in which he reeled off 16-straight points - including four consecutive three-pointers - in a jaw-dropping three and a half minute stretch.

Willamson finished with 22 points on 8 of 11 shooting with seven rebounds and three assists in just 18 minutes of action in a 121-117 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

Unfortunately for the rabid crowd inside Smoothie King Arena, medical staff intervened to pull Williamson for the final four minutes of the game, a move that drew fervent  'We want Zion' chants.

With just just five points to his name at the half, Williamson's debut looked like it may end in an anti-climax.

But the second stanza was a much different story, as he showed off some of the otherworldly  skills and athleticism that helped him post averages of 23.3 points and 6.5 rebounds through his four pre-season outings.

Williamson will have his next chance to impress against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday.