Wembanyama shines for Spurs in NBA preseason debut

San Antonio Spurs French center #01 Victor Wembanyama and Oklahoma City Thunder’s US small forward #34 Kenrich Williams vie for the ball during the NBA preseason basketball game between San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder at Paycom Center arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on October 9, 2023. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP)

French prodigy Victor Wembanyama scored 20 points in an impressive pre-season debut for the San Antonio Spurs against Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday.

Wembanyama, the 19-year-old No.1 draft pick from Paris who is being tipped as a generational NBA talent, produced some dazzling moments of skill in a narrow 122-121 defeat on the road.

Wembanyama finished with 20 points from 8-of-13 shooting with five rebounds, two steals and a block.

Despite spending only 19min 22sec on court, the 7-foot-3 Wembanyama was able to give plenty of glimpses of the combination of size and skill that has caused so much excitement since his arrival in the NBA.

A sublime spin move and layup that bamboozled the Oklahoma City defense midway through the second period caught the eye, while at the other end a remarkable block on Jalen Williams in the first quarter showcased his defensive skills.

“I thought he was fine,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Wembanyama’s display.

“No big game plan for him or anything like that. He just went out and played basketball which he likes to do and he’s good at.

“We’re still figuring out where we can take most advantage of his abilities. I’m not sure he’s even sure. But he’s a smart guy so he’ll figure it out even if I don’t.

“We corrected him on some things tonight, mostly on the defensive end. But that’s expected for all new players, coming into the league.”

Wembanyama meanwhile was satisfied with his opening performance.

Victor Wembanyama Spurs NBA preseason

San Antonio Spurs French center #01 Victor Wembanyama greets supporters following the NBA pre-season basketball game between San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder at Paycom Center arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on October 9, 2023. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP)

“In terms of the game it’s what I expected,” Wembanyama said. “I’m very hopeful, because we had some great sequences in the first half.

“I’m a rookie, so what I’ve got to do is play hard, give 100 percent… I was just trying to put energy at all times. But I can do better.”

Wembanyama’s performance was matched by the Thunder’s Chet Holmgren.

Holmgren was the second overall pick in the 2022 Draft but missed the entirety of his debut season with a foot injury.

Holmgren finished with 21 points and nine rebounds.



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“They’re going to be a lot of fun for everybody to watch over their careers,” Popovich said of Wembanyama and Holmgren.

San Antonio takes on Miami on Friday in their next pre-season game, with their opening match of the regular season coming at home on October 25 against Dallas.

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