All eyes on Victor Wembanyama as the No. 1 pick opens a new era with San Antonio Spurs

San Antonio Spurs' Victor Wembanyama (1) celebrates a basket with Spurs guard Devin Vassell during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 117-103. (AP Photo/Darren Abate) (Darren Abate, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)


Last season: 22-60. The Spurs missed the playoffs for fourth straight season.

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Coach: Gregg Popovich (29th season, 1,366-761).

What to expect: Wembanyama! Wembanyama! Wembanyama! All eyes have been on No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama and that hype will only increase once the season gets underway. At 7-foot-3 with an 8-foot wingspan, Wembanyama has impressed in the preseason with his long-range shooting, footwork in the paint, ability to quickly close defensively and block shots as well as his immense skills around the rim. The 19-year-old from France has done little to dampen the hoopla that began swelling following his performance in the 2021 FIBA U19’s in Latvia. Tim Duncan had a lot of talent around him when he joined the Spurs a quarter-century ago, but that's not the case for Wembanyama. His supporting cast includes Devin Vassell, Jeremy Sochan and Keldon Johnson along with Zach Collins at center and Tre Jones at point guard. Key reserves include Doug McDermott, Julian Champagnie and Malaki Branham. Still, with the Spurs scheduled for 19 nationally televised games after no such appearances last season, the league and its fans can see what many are already describing as Wembanyama's out-of-this-world talent.

Departures: F Keita Bates-Diop, C Gorgui Dieng, G Romeo Langford.

Additions: Wembanyama, F Sidy Cissoko, F Cedi Osman, G Sir’Jabari Rice.

Player to watch: Vassell. The fourth-year guard can build off a solid if short season while opposing defenses focus on Wembanyama. Vassell averaged 18.5 points and 3.6 assists per game last season, both career highs, but only played 38 games due to injuries and rest. Vassell, who has added muscle and is healthy, is averaging 17.3 points in the preseason while shooting 40% on 3-pointers. With Spurs coach Gregg Popovich stating the team’s internal focus has shifted from development to winning, Vassell has a chance to have a big impact on the Spurs’ fortunes.

Season opener: Oct. 25 vs. Dallas Mavericks

FanDuel Sportsbook NBA title odds: 500-1.



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