🏀 Spurs notebook: Wemby shines in preseason debut; team releases broadcast schedule; ESPN releases player rankings

Victor Wembanyama scores 20 points, grabs 5 rebounds 2 steals and a block in 19 minutes

San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama (1) goes up to block the shot of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jalen Williams (8) in the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game, Monday, Oct. 9, 2023, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sarah Phipps) (Sarah Phipps, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

SAN ANTONIOVictor Wembanyama, the San Antonio Spurs’ No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2023 NBA Draft and perhaps the most hyped prospect since LeBron James, made his preseason NBA debut, scoring 20 points in a 122-121 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night.

Wembanyama grabbed five rebounds and had two steals and a block in a total of 19 minutes.

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The 19-year-old French phenom went head to head against the No. 2 pick in the 2022 draft, Chet Holmgren, who missed all of last season with an injury. Holmgren had 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting and nine rebounds in just over 16 minutes.

Wemby showcased his incredible talent early, leaking out on a fast break for points, blocking a shot after a recovery on defense and even finishing an underhand scoop layup with his left hand around Holmgren.

“It was good, personally, I was feeling good like I had a lot of energy,” Wembanyama said to ESPN. “I felt like he (Holmgren) hurt us in the first half.”

San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama (1) celebrates after a basket in front of Oklahoma City Thunder guard Cason Wallace (22) in the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game, Monday, Oct. 9, 2023, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sarah Phipps) (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Both players went on to play sparingly in the second half, before giving way to the end of each team’s bench.

“They went at each other a couple of times and it was interesting,” Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said to ESPN. “It shows their character, their competitiveness and they did it within reason. Neither one was shooting horrible shots, they weren’t trying to do one another in or anything. It was basic basketball, and the basketball gods will agree. They are going to be a lot of fun for everyone to watch over their careers.”

The Spurs will again try for their first preseason win on Friday, Oct. 13 at home versus the Miami Heat. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on TNT.

Spurs release 2023 broadcast schedule

The San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday announced their broadcast schedule for the 2023-24 NBA season.

Most of the regular season games (76) will be shown locally on three channels, divided amongst Bally Sports, KENS 5, and CW35, a press release said. The Spurs said Bally Sports will air 61 of the regular season games, as well as a preseason game. KENS 5 will show 11 games and CW35 will broadcast four games, including games against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, Dec. 15, the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, Jan. 24 and the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, March 3.

Spurs great Sean Elliott is back for a 23rd year as lead analyst, along with veteran play-by-play broadcaster Bill Land.

Nineteen games will be broadcast nationally across ESPN, TNT, ABC and NBA TV. ABC’s broadcast of the Jan. 24 home game against the Oklahoma Thunder will be shown on KSAT-TV.

ESPN releases NBA player rankings for upcoming season

ESPN on Tuesday released a portion of its annual Top 100 NBA player rankings and once again, not many San Antonio Spurs were included.

In the bottom half of the rankings, not a single Spurs player was chosen in the ranks of 51 through 100. Spurs guard Devin Vassell, however, was listed as “one of 10 players who could vault into next year’s rankings” according to the media company.

The ESPN article said there was a case for Vassell to be included on the list, but a panel of analysts wanted to see more since he only played 38 games last year due to knee surgery.

The former Florida State Seminole averaged 18.5 points and 3.9 rebounds and shot 38% from deep during his injury-plagued season. He was previously listed at No. 82 overall on CBS Sports’ Top 100 NBA player rankings.

The player-to-watch article also makes note that Spurs franchise cornerstone Victor Wembanyama was selected as one of ESPN’s top 50 players in the league, despite not having yet played in a game. He was ranked No. 58 on CBS Sports’ Top 100 list.

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About the Author

Ben Spicer is a digital journalist who works the early morning shift for KSAT.

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