Multiple league sources have denied to ESPN that the NBA went out of its way to include the New Orleans Pelicans in the return-to-play plan in order to feature Zion Williamson.
But other league sources expect Williamson and the Pelicans to be featured prominently in their national television schedule.
"I would think any time they play -- you can put it on a Tuesday night, whenever -- people will watch that game," a Western Conference executive said of having Williamson playing inside the bubble.
"It's obvious a ton of people will watch just to watch him," another Western Conference executive said. "Go back and look at how full the arena was at summer league to go watch him play. It will be huge."
Nine of his 19 games were nationally televised, with those games averaging 30% more viewers than an average national TV broadcast this season.
"Compared to most other young players, [the league is] invested in him," an Eastern Conference executive said. "There are few of these guys that, instead of just being popular within basketball, can expand the relevance of the NBA. They hope he can do that for them."
If the Pelicans qualify for the playoffs, they would almost certainly play the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.
"[The NBA] would love to have a Michael Jordan versus the '86 Celtics moment in the first round," the executive continued. "If they could get their ideal world, that's what they would want."