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5 Most Anticipated NBA Debuts of All Time

Zion Williamson
Zion Williamson in warm-ups before Pelicans vs Clippers | Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Whenever a hyped prospect is about to play his first game in the NBA, fans everywhere get ready to watch the appropriately-coined next-big-thing have his first shot at the NBA competition. On Wednesday, Zion Williamson joins this exclusive group. Let's hope he lives up to the expectations.

5. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem's dominance at UCLA was the reason his inaugural game was as anticipated as it was.
Kareem's dominance at UCLA was the reason his inaugural game was as anticipated as it was.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a dominant player in college, averaging 26.4 points and 15.5 rebounds-per-game at UCLA. The size and length of Abdul-Jabbar combined with his finesse and touch around the basket made his first game highly-anticipated. Abdul-Jabbar did not disappoint, as the eventual NBA all-time leading scorer scored 29 points, to go along with 12 rebounds and six assists for the Bucks.

4. Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson's flashy play and personality was a big draw for audiences.
Magic Johnson's flashy play and personality was a big draw for audiences.

Magic Johnson was a flashy player and a larger-than-life personality who was able to draw media and fans alike to watch his play. His rivalry with Larry Bird and stats of 17.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.9 assists at Michigan State didn't hurt either. In his first game as a Laker, Johnson had 26 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four blocks.

3. Shaquille O'Neal

Shaq's strength was a mismatch for NCAA players and NBA players alike.
Shaq's strength was a mismatch for NCAA players and NBA players alike.

Shaquille O'Neal had a rare combination of size and athletic ability not seen since the days of Wilt Chamberlain. In his three years at LSU, O'Neal averaged 21.6 points, 13.5 rebounds and 4.6 blocks-per-game and shot 61 percent from the field. In the highly-anticipated first game with the Magic, O'Neal had 12 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks, but also had eight turnovers and six fouls in the win over the Miami Heat.

2. Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson, Jakob Poeltl
Williamson's game is tailor-made for today's NBA. | Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

Zion Williamson's rare blend of strength and leaping ability made him a YouTube sensation as a high schooler and an intriguing prospect as a college player. In his four years as a varsity player in HS, Williamson averaged 32 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2.9 blocks. As a one-and-done player at Duke, Williamson put up 22.6 points and 8.9 rebounds an outing, flashing ridiculous athleticism every game. We can't wait to watch him in action.

1. LeBron James

LeBron James' first game was the most anticipated first game in NBA history.
LeBron James' first game was the most anticipated first game in NBA history.

A high school kid from Akron grows up to become the best high school player ever, and is drafted by his hometown team. This is the story of LeBron James, who tore through the high school circuit, being recruited by every college imaginable. King James was the player of the year in HS as a Junior, won three state titles and was simply unstoppable, scoring 31.6 PPG as a Senior. In James' first game as a pro, he put up 25 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds and 4 steals, showing just how bright his future would be.