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

West-best Thunder pounce Spurs in return to San Antonio

West-best+Thunder+pounce+Spurs+in+return+to+San+Antonio
Courtesy of the San Antonio Spurs/Arthur Reginald Thomas II

Have you ever looked at someone your age and thought, “They sure are further along than I am?”

Though Spurs French phenom Victor Wembanyama probably has not thought this of anyone, it is clear from Wednesday’s romp at the Frost Bank Center that his squad has a few seasons to go.

The San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder began the 2023-24 season with the two youngest rosters in the NBA, yet the Thunder’s dominant 140-114 drubbing over the Spurs proved that the two teams could not be further apart.

“Sammy’s been fantastic,” coach Gregg Popovich said of OKC’s general manager Sam Presti. “It takes a while to get there. They’ve had a lot of good picks over a good number of years to get where they are now, and it’s starting to show its benefits. They’re doing a great job.”

“They’ve stayed the course. They’ve been patient. They added people every year. And now they have a chance to do something special.”

Oklahoma City has turned heads thus far in the NBA season, accumulating a Western Conference-best 31-13 record after the 26-point win, the antithesis of San Antonio’s Western Conference-worst 8-36 record. 

Thunder forward Chet Holmgren and Wembanyama are the two front runners for this season’s Rookie of the Year Award, making Wednesday’s matchup a must-watch. 

“My first goal is always to win, and in a game like this, I don’t think about that,” Wembanyama said of taking the matchup against Holmgren personal.

On the one hand, Holmgren, who was drafted in 2022 but sidelined for the entire season due to an ankle injury, has a great roster around him. Guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a viable MVP candidate who is fourth in the league in scoring, tallying 31.1 points per game. The young OKC team also is top three in the league in points, blocks and steals per game while second in free throw, field goal and 3-point percentage. 

On the other hand, Wembanyama is stuck on a team that is near the bottom of nearly every team stat. Aside from Wemby’s 24 points and 12 rebounds and Devin Vassell’s 21, no other Spurs player had more than 12 points, which came from Blake Wesley who started in place of Tre Jones who is monitoring a tweaked ankle.

The Thunder had six players in double figures scoring, led by Gilgeous-Alexander with a game-high 32. Aaron Wiggins logged 22 points off the bench, while Holmgren logged 17 in a team-high 30 minutes. 

Now, this does not mean the Spurs front office is lollygagging around. But the pieces around Holmgren are a much better fit for now than what Wemby has around him. Perhaps in a half-decade when Wembanyama is Gilgeous-Alexander’s age, he will have more key pieces from trades and the draft, just like “Sammy” had built up for Holmgren’s rookie season. 

The Spurs will next face Portland in a seven-game homestand. Tip is set for 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Frost Bank Center.

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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 fifth semester at The Paisano and his fourth 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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