The Promising Start of Victor Wembanyama in the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs
Victor Wembanyama arrived in the NBA as one of the most highly regarded prospects in the league’s history. Now, after a month of competition, it’s time to assess how the rookie has fared with the San Antonio Spurs.
Like any rookie, Wembanyama has experienced both highs and lows. He has already showcased his scoring ability with four 20-point games, including a remarkable 38-point performance against the Suns. However, his overall efficiency has been inconsistent, and the team has suffered numerous losses.
To truly understand Wembanyama’s performance, we need to analyze his offensive and defensive contributions during his first month in the NBA.
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Offensive Performance of Victor Wembanyama
Victor Wembanyama’s on-court abilities are truly remarkable and often leave spectators in awe.
As expected, his towering height of 2.24 meters and wingspan of over 2.40 meters provide significant advantages. The Frenchman excels in running the court, possesses a great touch near the rim, and his teammates have quickly learned to take advantage of his presence by feeding him the ball.
Take a look at the incredible reach Wembanyama displays in this play.
The Spurs have recognized the importance of utilizing Wembanyama’s skills effectively. However, there have been instances where his teammates failed to capitalize on his clear advantages. Notably, Tre Jones has been the most successful in connecting with the Frenchman, resulting in improved offensive performance for the team.
Wembanyama’s offensive game is progressing well in other areas too.
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While he can shoot over almost anyone, his mid-range shooting percentage stands at 35.4%, and his three-point shooting percentage is 27.9%, both below the average for his position. It’s important to note that two-thirds of his shots at the basket have been jump shots.
Plays like this demonstrate his potential:
However, it will take time for Wembanyama to consistently produce such moments.
Turnovers have been a concern for Wembanyama, averaging 3.9 per game. While he possesses the ability to create off the dribble, he needs to improve his ball control to become a reliable playmaker. Although he shows glimpses of being a good passer, the speed of the game sometimes overwhelms him, which is typical for a rookie.
Wembanyama handles aggressive defenses well, but he still needs to develop better awareness of his surroundings. For instance, in this situation, connecting with Cedi Osman (44.7% three-point shooter) would have been a better choice than passing to Malaki Branham (28.9%).
This turnover was one of seven committed by Wembanyama against the Miami Heat that night.
Despite the ups and downs in his offensive performance, it’s evident that Wembanyama possesses exceptional control on the court. Over time, opponents who can match his strength in the post will likely struggle to keep up with his speed. And even if they are quick, they won’t have the height or physique to contain him.
The level of skill Wembanyama possesses at his size is truly remarkable. The thought that this is just the beginning is both exciting and terrifying.
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Defensive Performance of Victor Wembanyama
Wembanyama has already established himself as one of the premier defenders in the NBA, an impressive feat for a 19-year-old rookie. He was named the best defender in the French league last season, but it’s rare for someone so young to make such an impact in the world’s top basketball competition.
Undoubtedly, Wembanyama’s size is his most notable attribute. His towering presence around the basket and his wingspan make him a nightmare for opponents. Furthermore, he can step out and defend on the perimeter. Coach Popovich often assigns him to guard players like Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, and Paul George.
Paul George, an eight-time All-Star with six All-NBA selections, had high praise for Wembanyama on his podcast.
Wembanyama’s ability to cover ground and deter opponents is evident in plays like this, where players hesitate to challenge him both inside and outside the paint:
Victor Wembanyama just takes up so much space. Raptors score but it’s fun to watch teams figure out where the gaps are. pic.twitter.com/GSj57xGd4P
— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) November 5, 2023
While there have been instances where Wembanyama overcommits and leaves himself vulnerable, the positives far outweigh the negatives. He is already blocking a significant number of shots, and opponents find it challenging to score against him regardless of his position on the court. The Spurs’ defense has greatly benefited from his presence.
Wembanyama is destined to be an All-Defensive player in the future and will likely receive votes for Defensive Player of the Year this season. It’s evident that he possesses all the tools to become an extraordinary force on the defensive end.