How to watch Zion Williamson's NBA debut: Live stream Pelicans vs. Spurs

(Image credit: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Usually, you wouldn't get too excited about a basketball game featuring the ninth- and 12th place teams in the NBA's Western Conference. But most games between teams suffering through less-than-stellar seasons don't feature the NBA debut of Zion Williamson.

Williamson, the No. 1 pick in last year's NBA draft, has missed all of the 2019-20 NBA season up until this point as he recovered from knee surgery in October. That changes within the hour), as Williamson will take the court with the New Orleans Pelicans in their game tonight (Jan. 22) against the San Antonio Spurs.

Whether you've followed Williamson's exploits since his time at Duke or you're just a major hoops fan, you won't want to miss this Pelicans-Spurs game. And thanks to a variety of streaming options, you've got plenty of ways to watch Zion Williamson's NBA debut.

Pelicans vs. Spurs start time, channel

The Pelicans vs. Spurs game tips off at 9:30 p.m. EST/6:30 p.m. PST. ESPN has the coverage of the game. (That means the game won't be available as part of the NBA League Pass service, which black out nationally broadcast games.)

In the UK, you can watch Zion Williamson's NBA debut on Sky Sports Main Event, though the game tips off at 2:30 a.m. GMT on Thursday morning. If you don't subscribe to Sky, a day pass from NowTV lets you watch Sky Sports programming for 24 hours; it costs £9.99. 

How can I use a VPN to live stream Zion Williamson's NBA debut?

If you're traveling right now, you don't have to be shut out of watching Williamson take the court in the Pelicans vs. Spurs game. A virtual private network, or VPN, lets you disguise your location, so you can get around any geographic streaming blocks to access the same streaming services you would back at home.

We've evaluated many different VPNs, and we recommend ExpressVPN as the best overall VPN. It has excellent customer support and it fared well in our testing. You can also get a low monthly price by signing up for annual service.


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One month of ExpressVPN costs $12.95, but you can lower that to $6.67 a month if you opt for a year of service; ExpressVPN will throw in three additional months for free. There's a 30-day money-back guarantee if you're not satisfied.

How can I live stream Zion Williamson's NBA debut?

Because the game is airing on ESPN, you can watch the Pelicans play the Spurs via ESPN's website, which live streams all the sports airing on ESPN's various channels. Zion Williamson's NBA debut is also available to stream on the ESPN mobile app (Android, iOS) in case there's no TV around.

But to stream things on ESPN, you need to sign in with the login information from your cable or satellite TV provider. That's not going to be possible if you don't have a cable subscription.

How can I live stream Zion Williamson's NBA debut without cable?

You can still watch the Pelicans vs. Spurs game and get a glimpse of Zion Williamson's first action as a pro, but you'll need to sign on with another subscription streaming service. Fortunately, ESPN is included with many streaming services (though not Fubo.TV), so you can find a variety of options at different prices.


Sling.TV: The cheapest way to live stream Zion Williamson's NBA debut is through Sling and its Orange package of channels, which includes ESPN. Sling costs $30 a month, but your first month of service is discounted to $20.


YouTubeTV: YouTube's live TV option is more expensive, at $50 a month, but you get more channels. And ESPN is among the 70-plus channels included with YouTube TV, which also offers a cloud DVR feature for recording programs to watch later.


Hulu: Hulu's live TV tier costs $55 a month and includes ESPN. As with YouTube TV, you get a cloud DVR if you want to record Zion Williamson's NBA debut to watch later.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.