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Report: Zion Williamson expected to begin practicing shortly

Momentum continues to build for the return of New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson.

According to Shams Charania of Stadium, the team expects Williamson “to return to his first practice shortly after the New Year” and that both sides are “hopeful” the No. 1 overall pick will make his NBA debut sometime this month.

While it’s still unclear exactly when Williamson will return, Andrew Lopez of ESPN reported the rookie still hasn’t yet worked in five-on-five drills with the team, preferring to focus on individual drills that includes working to improve the 19-year-old’s walking and running form in an attempt to prevent future injuries.

Williamson averaged 23.3 points and 6.5 rebounds in four preseason outings before suffering the right knee injury that has sidelined him.