Spurs begin new era Wednesday with French phenom Victor Wembanyama

Silver and Black played at home against Dallas Mavericks

SAN ANTONIO – A new era of Spurs basketball officially began Wednesday night when French phenom and No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama made his regular season debut for the five-time NBA champions.

The buzz surrounding Wembanyama and the franchise is at a fever pitch. Season ticket sales and interest in the team have soared since the Spurs won the NBA Draft Lottery and selected Wembanyama, the most highly touted prospect since LeBron James.

Wembanyama’s preseason performance only elevated expectations for the 19-year-old rookie, as he showcased an array of skills on the offensive and defensive end. In four preseason games, Wembanyama averaged 19.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game.

The path to Wembanayama has been an arduous one for the franchise. The Spurs have been in rebuild mode for the better part of three seasons, trading players such as Dejounte Murray and Derrick White while amassing young talent and draft picks for the future.

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That core talent includes Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson and one of last year’s first-round draft picks, Jeremy Sochan.

Vassell recently signed a lucrative extension with the Spurs. The promising sharp-shooter and scorer is expected to be one of the primary scoring options. Vassell averaged 18.5 points per game last season despite missing most of the year with a knee injury.

Johnson averaged 22 points per game, but will likely see a change in his offensive output. As one of the Spurs young veterans, Johnson will be asked to take more of a leadership role on both ends of the court.

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Sochan is considered to be one of the most versatile players on the roster. The second-year forward averaged 11 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Sochan can play a variety of positions and will be asked to play point guard at times.

Role players such as newly extended big man Zach Collins and point guard Tre Jones give the Spurs solid depth while veterans Doug McDermott, Cedi Osman and Devonte’ Graham add much-needed experience to the roster, the youngest in the NBA.

But this year ultimately boils down to Wembanyama. Head coach Gregg Popovich, 74, extended his contract with the franchise for another five seasons in an effort to get Wembanyama’s legs under him.

The Spurs or Popovich have given no indication of how they will manage the rookie or whether he will rest games. Wembanyama recently said he wants to play every game if he’s healthy, which is rare in the current NBA.

The Spurs will likely be methodical with their franchise-changing player, but that will not diminish the excitement and hype surrounding the team.

The Spurs are slated to play 19 national TV games after playing in only two last season. One of those games is the home opener against the Dallas Mavericks on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. CT.

Most analysts do not expect the Spurs to contend for a top spot in the Western Conference this season, but with Wembanyama on the roster, the outlook and anticipation have reached levels not seen since the Big Three era.

It’s a new era of Spurs hoops with early hopes for a sixth, and possibly more NBA titles in the future.

About the Author

RJ Marquez is the traffic anchor/reporter for KSAT’s Good Morning San Antonio. He also fills in as a news anchor and has covered stories from breaking news and Fiesta to Spurs championships and high school sports. RJ started at KSAT in 2010. He is proud to serve our viewers and be a part of the culture and community that makes San Antonio great.

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