Tracking the San Antonio Spurs rookie in his debut season

Victor Wembanyama has been hailed because the most-hyped NBA prospect since LeBron James. Now, he’s set to make his NBA debut within the common season.

The 19-year-old point-forward performs like nobody else on the planet together with his staggering dimension (7-foot-4) and body (almost 8-foot wingspan). To see him take gamers off the dribble and step into 3-pointers from Stephen Curry vary defies every little thing you’ll ever anticipate from a younger participant together with his dimension. He’s most noticeable on the defensive finish as a rim protector and successfully guarding wings off the pick-and-roll change.

Wembanyama grew up in Le Chesnay, France, a suburb 15 miles exterior of Paris. His mother, Elodie de Fautereau, performed basketball at a excessive stage and his father, Felix, was knowledgeable excessive jumper and ran observe. His older sister, Eve, additionally performed basketball and received a gold medal with France on the 2017 U16 European Championship. As a toddler, Wembanyama performed soccer and was an elite goalkeeper earlier than giving it as much as focus solely on basketball.

At simply 14 years outdated, Wembanyama helped France’s JSF Nanterre U18 crew turn out to be the French League runner-up, regardless of being three years youthful than many of the gamers. Round this time, Wembanyama began to get observed by different scouts round Europe. He was a lanky heart who wasn’t afraid to shoot deep 3s, assault the lane off the perimeter and performed the sport in a different way than anybody else. It was clear early on he was going to be a particular participant together with his dimension and ability set. Regardless of pushes to maneuver to Barcelona, an even bigger basketball metropolis, Wembanyama opted to remain in France and proceed his growth, finally taking part in for ASVEL Villeurbanne within the EuroLeague and the U19 French nationwide crew.

Each NBA scout was tuned in throughout the summer time of 2021 to look at 7-foot Chet Holmgren, that 12 months’s No. 2 total decide, go head-to-head with Wembanyama within the FIBA U19 World Cup gold-medal recreation. Holmgren is named the most effective rim protectors in America, however it was Wembanyama (a 12 months youthful than everybody on the court docket) who was unbelievable, recording eight blocks and including 22 factors in an MVP-caliber efficiency. Group USA barely edged France, 83-81, with Holmgren profitable MVP honors and ending with 10 factors and 5 assists in 23 minutes. In the course of the course of the match, Wembanyama set a FIBA World Cup file for blocked photographs with 40, averaging 5.7 per recreation. Holmgren recorded solely 19 blocks within the match.

France’s Victor Wembanyama throughout the FIBA World Cup qualifiers on Nov. 11, 2022. (Picture by PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP by way of Getty Photos)

“By no means have I ever seen Chet Holmgren overshadowed bodily like he was final 12 months each time the 2 met,” an NBA scout advised Yahoo Sports activities. “He virtually can and does do all that Chet can, however is three inches taller, in all probability shoots it higher from 3, might have a greater really feel as a passer and has a significantly better body to develop than Chet.”

Wembanyama would most positively have been the No. 1 total decide in 2022 and arguably the No. 1 decide within the final three draft courses. He’s the perfect younger prospect on the planet, and is now the constructing block round which the San Antonio Spurs hope to chase one other NBA championship.

— Krysten Peek, NBA Draft analyst

Victor Wembanyama’s journey from France to the NBA

The day after the 2022 draft, Wembanyama was already atop Yahoo Sports activities’ 2023 mock draft rankings and stayed there by means of his final choice.

“Proper now, it’s Wembanyama and everybody else for the 2023 draft,” one NBA scout advised Yahoo Sports activities in June 2022.

There was intrigue about whether or not NBA groups would tank for Wembanyama, with the Spurs among the many early favorites in that spot.

In the meantime, Wembanyama and his French crew, Metropolitans 92, traveled to the Las Vegas space to play two exhibition video games towards the G League Ignite and eventual No. 3 draft decide Scoot Henderson, in October 2022. The pair exceeded all expectations within the first recreation. Wembanyama scored 37 factors, with seven 3-pointers, and recorded 5 blocks in 32 minutes. Within the second recreation, he solidified his No. 1 draft prospect rating with 36 factors, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks and 4 assists.

Scoot Henderson of the G League Ignite drives to the basket against Victor Wembanyama of Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 in their exhibition game on Oct. 4, 2022, at The Dollar Loan Center in Henderson, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Scoot Henderson of the G League Ignite drives to the basket towards Victor Wembanyama of Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 of their exhibition recreation on Oct. 4, 2022, at The Greenback Mortgage Middle in Henderson, Nevada. (Picture by Ethan Miller/Getty Photos)

When the pingpong balls fell San Antonio’s manner throughout the NBA Draft Lottery in Might, it appeared poetic that head coach Gregg Popovich would get one other alternative to develop a generational expertise.

After Wembanyama formally declared for the 2023 draft, his professional season in France continued. He skipped the NBA Draft Mix as Mets 92 made a run to the LNB Professional A Finals. Mets 92 have been swept by Monaco within the Finals, a small reprieve for Wembanyama, who traveled to New York Metropolis to organize for the NBA Draft.

Throughout draft week, Wembanyama received his first have a look at the intense lights and calls for the NBA would entail. His pure pleasure at being chosen No. 1 — irrespective of how far gone the conclusion was — highlighted the draft’s greatest moments. He additionally promised that he would not be “too drained” to play within the Las Vegas Summer time League and mentioned he could not wait to have breakfast tacos in Texas.

At Summer time League, all-day session tickets offered out prematurely as followers needed to get an early glimpse at Wembanyama. His debut wasn’t spectacular — 9 factors, eight rebounds and 5 blocks — however he made up for it together with his second, and closing, Summer time League recreation.

After three lengthy months, no less than in Wembanyama hype time, the Spurs rookie performed a (considerably) significant NBA recreation, going head-to-head with one other heralded rookie — 2022 No. 2 decide Chet Holmgren — of their preseason debuts. Wembanyama scored 20 factors with 5 rebounds and two steals, and, after all, began what ought to be an extended spotlight reel this season. His three different preseason video games saved the highlights coming till the conclusion with a photograph so absurd, you simply should see it.

San Antonio Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama blocks the shot of Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins during an NBA preseason game on Oct. 20, 2023, at Chase Center in San Francisco. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Now, the hype and expectations proceed to develop for a rookie with no true comparisons. We are going to see how he fares in Recreation 1 on Wednesday vs. the Dallas Mavericks … after which once more for a potential 81 extra video games this season.

Learn extra on Wembanyama:

Wemby Watch: Monitoring every little thing you’ll want to know concerning the Spurs rookie

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