Zion Williamson is expected to return in six to eight weeks after undergoing successful arthroscopic surgery Monday on his torn right lateral meniscus, the Pelicans announced.
Williamson's surgery comes after a summer filled with knee problems for the rookie. He missed the Pelicans' final preseason game last week with right knee soreness. Williamson did not travel with the team to play the Knicks but remained in New Orleans to undergo further testing and evaluation on his knee.
In four preseason games, Williamson averaged 23.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game in just 27 minutes per night, shooting 71% from the field.
Williamson also missed most of the Summer League season with a bruised left knee. He exited his first and only Summer League game in June after nine minutes when he suffered a knee-to-knee hit in the game.
After a standout season at Duke, Williamson became just the third freshman ever to win the Naismith Men's Player of the Year Award and picked up the AP Men's College Basketball Player of the Year and the John R. Wooden Award. The Pelicans selected him with the first pick in the 2019 draft.
While fans have been eagerly awaiting his NBA debut, the Pelicans will open the season without Williamson against the defending champion Raptors on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET.
New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry could play Nicolo Melli in Williamson's place or move Brandon Ingram over to power forward until the rookie's return.