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Three takeaways from Wembanyama’s long-awaited summer league debut

San Antonio top pick Victor Wembanyama gets ready to play defense, guarding No. 2 overall pick, Brandon Miller. Photo Credit: Terrel Emerson

It’s not often that a single NBA draft prospect’s debut overshadows storylines such as the No. 1 overall pick vs. the No. 2 overall pick. However, not every prospect is San Antonio’s Victor Wembanyama.

In front of a sellout Thomas & Mack Center crowd, the 7-foot, four-inch rookie affectionately known as “Wemby” made his debut in a, 76-68, win over Charlotte Friday, July 7.

So much has been made about his 2-for-13 shooting performance on the way to nine points, eight rebounds, three assists and five blocks. Here are three takeaways from Wemby’s debut:

1. He’s Human

There are some people who truly live by the “Any publicity is good publicity” mantra. Not that Wemby appears to be one of those people but the facts remain: Nearly all of the basketball world tuned in.

With so much surrounding the enigma entering his first year in the NBA, Wembanyama already has a larger than life persona that he’s walking into. On day one of the NBA Summer League, fans found out what should’ve been most obvious, which was Victor Wembanyama is human.

His 7’4 frame coupled with unique offensive game along with an innate nose for the ball on the defensive end was the perfect recipe to make him the unanimous choice for No. 1 overall pick in last month’s draft. It did not, however, make him exempt from being young and making mistakes.

Not to mention, he enters the league as the Spurs’ third-ever top pick, joining Hall-of-Famers David Robinson and Tim Duncan. While Robinson and Duncan led historic transitions in terms of the team’s overall records in their first seasons in the league, Wemby more than likely will not.

2. Offense will come to him in due time

Simply put, Wembanyama’s offensive touch just wasn’t there in his summer league debut. Going back to the first point, he looked nervous which can be expected for any prospect let alone a top prospect.

However, what top prospects can’t allow to happen is to become discouraged. The moment Wembanyama began to hesitate after starting the game 0-for-3 with a missed dunk was the moment the building began to turn on him.

Spurs forward Victor Wembanyama looks for a teammate on offense during his summer league debut. Photo Credit: Terrel Emerson

It should be no secret that the San Antonio fans will be a lot slower to anger when ushering its new top pick into their fan base. Although, they won’t wait forever especially if he begins to second-guess himself.

Second-guessing also includes dribbling so much in the paint which is going to have to be stopped right away. With the distance being so large between his dribble and the hardwood, it appears defenses will be instructed to swipe away if he doesn’t go up for a shot right away.

His first points came on an and-one bank shot from the paint in the first quarter while his only other made field goal came in the fourth frame on a made three plus the foul.

For comparative purposes, No. 2 overall pick Brandon Miller recorded 16 points on 5-for-15 from the field and 11 rebounds for the Hornets.

3. Spurs won’t be able to hide him defensively on the wing

When looking at the stat sheet, it’s hard to say anything’s wrong with a defensive effort that saw Wembanyama finish with five blocks but there’s at least one.

For the vast majority, if not all, of the game Wembanyama was used as a wing defender on the perimeter. At times, he was even matched up with the aforementioned Miller.

Miller used his speed to get by Wembanyama on more than one occasion while also cashing in on a couple of three-pointers. There was an instance where Miller attempted a three off-the-catch of an inbounds pass, only to be blocked by the one person taken ahead of him in the draft.

While his size will inevitably net him some blocks in cases such as that, it can’t be the best place for him defensively. For context purposes, when the season starts he’d be in front of someone like Los Angeles Clippers guard Norman Powell, a strong wing player who has the speed to blow by Wemby and the jumping ability to punch one over the trailing seven-footer.

Maybe he can get his footwork together before the end of his first full season in the league. But he’d have to get it together a great deal considering I didn’t mention some of the superstar wings in the league such as Kevin Durant and Jayson Tatum.

Now, one would be foolish to assume they know more basketball than San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich so if anybody can make it work, it's him.

Most people reading this may expect a mention of the poster dunk from Kai Jones on Wembanyama higher up in the story. Plain and simple, it happens to be the first time but it won’t be the last, it happens.

At least we can appreciate the young man working hard on the defensive end.


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