Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Is Wembanyama more NBA-ready than we thought?

Wembanyama drops 23 points in 23 minutes in first home preseason game
Courtesy of Michael Gonzales/NBAE

SAN ANTONIO – New employees typically need time to get used to a new job before making a case for being an employee of the month. All the more so when you are the youngest person in said company and from another country.

Victor Wembanyama, the 19-year-old French phenom, has wasted no time in his first games in San Antonio at making a case he is already the best player for the Silver and Black. After reporting for training camp on Oct. 3, “Wemby” has adjusted to the league quite smoothly. The No. 1 overall pick dropped 20 points in 19 minutes in his preseason debut against Oklahoma City on Oct. 9 and followed that up with 23 points in 23 minutes last Friday. 

Wembanyama gained a lot of attention over the last year in France with his height and unique skillset which has set the expectation bar pretty high, and perhaps, deservingly so. But is it possible the new cornerstone of the franchise is more NBA-ready than expected?

“You don’t really see that every night. That’s for sure,” Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Wembanyama after Friday’s game. “I was just as curious, and I had the anticipation factor just to see what he actually looks like on the floor. That’s different, for sure. All the hype and everything, it seems like it’s real.”

Wemby’s coach, Gregg Popovich, had his own praise after the 23-point performance.

He’s obviously a gifted player who’s very humbling trying to find his place,” Popovich said. “I called one play for him all night, and I think he got over 20. He just did that because he’s a good basketball player and he understands how to play. We have to make sure that we blend that with everything else that we have.”

The two coaches, who may be the first and second-best coaches in the entire NBA, had high praise for the teenager, with Popovich already implying the rest of the team will revolve around him. That may sound like a daunting task for someone who has only been in the United States for a couple of months and is simply trying to learn his way around town, but teammates of Wembanyama have already felt the on-court presence. 

“I feel like I can gamble more. I can be in passing lanes more and anticipate more because I know I’ve got somebody down there that’s going to anchor,” guard Devin Vassell said on feeling more comfortable defending with Wembanyama in the paint. “We are all talking. There are times when he’s talking to me when I’m down there and I know I can gamble to get a steal. So, he is going to help us out for sure.”

Of course, we have seen players before “pop” in the preseason and have nothing to show for it when the regular season comes around. Though with Wembanyama’s immediate impact with his ball handling and shooting, and with his 7-foot-5 frame, the rookie may be ahead of schedule.

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About the Contributor
Luke Lawhorn, Sports Editor
Luke (he/him) is an English major at UTSA and is set to graduate in the Spring of 2024. This is his fourth semester at The Paisano and his third as the sports editor. Along with covering UTSA sports and events, Luke also covers high school sports and local events for the San Antonio Express-News and covers the San Antonio Spurs for The Paisano. He has a huge passion for covering sports and giving his opinion on them. Outside of writing and talking about sports, Luke's hobbies include playing basketball, watching movies and all things outdoors.

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