SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Spurs won the NBA draft on Tuesday night, landing the team a franchise altering No. 1 overall pick and the rights to draft one of the most highly touted prospects in NBA history.
The Spurs, along with the Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets, all entered the night with a 14% chance, or 7-1 odds, to claim the right to draft Victor “Wemby” Wembanyama, currently one of the most talked-about players in the world.
But it was the Alamo City that had the ping pong balls fall their way for the third time in franchise history, following in the footsteps of notable big men and first overall picks David Robinson and Tim Duncan.
So, who is Victor Wembanyama? And what can Spurs fans expect from him next season?
Wembanyama, who is 19 years old and stands 7-foot-3 , was born in Le Chesnay, France, and plays for the French national basketball team. His father, who is 6-foot-5, was a track and field athlete who competed in the high jump, long jump and triple jump. His mother, who is 6-foot-3, is a basketball coach and former player.
Wembanyama, like Tim Duncan, began his sporting career elsewhere. He played soccer as a goalkeeper and studied judo before focusing on basketball. He ultimately began his basketball career thanks to his mom, who coached youth teams.
As like any 19-year-old, “Wemby” likes video games, but also enjoys art and reading.
He recently finished his third professional season in France, which didn’t allow him to attend the NBA Lottery.
“I’m trying to win a ring ASAP,” Wembanyama told ESPN after the lottery results. “So be ready.”
Wemby’s been on the radar of NBA scouts for quite some time.
He even scored 22 points with Boulogne-Levallois of France’s top pro league earlier on Tuesday, closing out his season by clinching the league’s scoring title. NBA players have taken notice, with Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James calling Wemby “an alien” since he has the height of a center, but the play-style of a guard. Scouts have said he can do it all, providing an ability to run the floor, shoot from distance, and be a defensive presence at the rim. It’s also been reported that he has a wingspan of nearly 8 feet and can nearly grab the rim without jumping, with a frame that has yet to fill out.
“I believe he’s going to be a hall-of-famer,” said Paris basketball coach Will Weaver, a former assistant with the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers. “I coached Kevin Durant, Jarrett Allen. I’ve been around a lot of good, big men that have a lot of unique skills. I just see his professionalism and competitiveness.”
How he fits with the Spurs
Wemby’s fit with the Spurs couldn’t be any better.
He spent the last year playing for former Spurs player Tony Parker’s team in France and was coached by Vincent Collet, someone his new head coach Gregg Popovich deeply respects, after coaching against Collet in the 2019 World Cup and Tokyo Olympics.
The team brings back much of the young talent on the roster, starting with last season’s first-round pick Jeremy Sochan, who looks to be a great fit alongside him in the front court. Young wings Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell also both averaged nearly 20 points per game, and should help to alleviate some of the scoring burden off his shoulders. Malaki Brenham, Blake Wesley, and Charles Bassey have shown talent as well.
The Spurs also have the ability to upgrade the roster, should they choose to do so, with only seven players currently under contract for the 2024-2025 season.
Who does he play like?
Wembanyama play style is something that even in the NBA, hasn’t yet really been seen. He’s a trendsetter and simply plays like a video game creation.
He said his two favorite players in the NBA are Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant, and Tony Parker says Spurs fans should get their popcorn ready.
“Talent-wise, I think he’s something that we’ve never seen before,” Parker said.
Scouts have offered comparisons and combinations of Hall-of-Famer Dirk Nowitzki, Giannis, and Durant, but they’re all less talent than what he could ultimately become.
What can Spurs fans expect from him next season?
Wemby should step in and provide a starter-level talent from the get-go.
His youth and inexperience, however, will create a learning curve, despite him being the No. 1 overall pick. The spotlight will be on both him and the team now, as interest in the Spurs will go through the roof. He’ll be challenged by everyone, wanting to see what he’s made of as he’s now a marked man. He’ll have some rough games, especially early on as he gets his feet wet, but he’ll make the team much better, and more watchable, right away.
“Our future was already bright,” Spurs managing partner Peter J. Holt said to the Associated Press. “Now, it’s going to be through the moon.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.