A second chance was just what No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama needed during his summer league stint.
Wembanyama shined on the NBA Summer League stage with a flashy 27 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks in an eventual five-point loss for his San Antonio Spurs at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers Sunday, July 9.
“I wish we would’ve won the game,” he said. “I think I could’ve done more to be honest with you but we’re going to keep learning.”
Fellow top pick Scoot Henderson sat out the contest, nursing a shoulder injury.
The Thomas & Mack Center appeared to turn into the AT&T Center with late-game chants of “Defense” and “Go Spurs Go,” in an effort to rally San Antonio back from a once double-digit hole.
Along that comeback trail, Wemby converted on a turnaround jumper to cut the deficit to four. He followed it up with a block the next time down the floor only to anchor a defensive effort that forced a shot clock violation.
To spark those earlier chants, it was Wembanyama who drained a three to trim the once 19-point lead to a single point. The Spurs never held a lead in the contest.
“I think the best show for the fans is the win,” he said. “Obviously, it’s just summer league but they can see us developing tonight.”
It was a completely different look to Wemby in game two of the summer league versus his first appearance in confidence alone. About halfway through the first quarter, he calmly knocked down a 17-foot jumpshot.
Even when the defense began to creep up, the 7’4 French center swiftly took a dribble to his left and rose up for the successful jumper from 18-feet away. Portland defenders fouled Wembanyama several times on closeouts in the second half.
“It’s just me getting comfortable with myself and my body,” Wembanyama said. “Before today, I had two practices and one game.”
In the first half alone, Wemby tallied 11 points and six rebounds just two nights removed from recording nine points and eight rebounds during his debut.
During his postgame press conference, Wembanyama addressed media with a band aid over his right cheek, just under the cheekbone. That was evidence of a much more physical 40 minutes for the No. 1 overall pick then he endured on Friday night.
“The court is more open,” he said when comparing the playing style in France to that of the NBA. “It’s very fast but it’s less physical. I get fouled a lot but not as much, there’s nothing to compare.”
From the opening jump, Wembanyama was the defensive anchor for the Spurs opening the game defending the paint. Portions of his game was played from inside the key as well including a tip-dunk followed by a poster in the second quarter.
In an effort to get more aggressive with him, Portland fouled the 19-year-old on a dunk attempt in the third quarter thwarting the attempt. The next trip down the floor, he responded to another foul on a dunk attempt with a throw-in finish with his left hand.