Clumsy and lacking in bearings, the 19-year-old French prodigy hardly shone on Friday in Las Vegas during the 76-68 victory against Charlotte.
A new stage in the life and career of Victor Wembanyama. Chosen in number 1 of the Draft on June 22, in Brooklyn, a first for a Frenchman, the former protege of Vincent Collet at Boulogne-Levallois played his first match with San Antonio last night. Obviously, it was not an official match, but a Summer League meeting, in a still crowded Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas (18,000 spectators) for this duel against Brandon Miller’s Charlotte Hornets , number 2 of the 2023 Draft. A few show business stars in the stands, former glories Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jerry West, current players like Trae Young… Everyone wanted to see the first steps of “Wemby”. It shouldn’t have changed too much for the 19-year-old prodigy, who sold out all season with the Mets.
Even Britney Spears wanted to approach the phenomenon Thursday, in Las Vegas, a bit too close for Spurs’ safety liking. “This person grabbed me, security pushed her away but I don’t know how much force“, he indicated Thursday in front of the press, he who had been instructed not to stop for “avoid a crowd“. He therefore did not turn around and did not know, at the time, that it was the 41-year-old pop star … “I had no idea until the next few hours when a member of Spurs security told me it was Britney Spears. I thought he was joking, but it‘was good for her (laughs)“, he amused himself.
Set an example in defense and play collectively in attack.
Victor Wembanyama before the game
Wembanyama was mostly “eager» to play and «happy to be there“, evoking his desire to”set an example in defense and play as a team in attack“. And to add:I still have a lot to learn, but that’s good, that’s the goal of the Summer League“. Barely. Remember that the Summer League is a kind of laboratory to test young people and some rookies. It is not with this team that San Antonio will start the season. In the end, we will remember that the Frenchman, who played roughly in five-minute increments, struggled offensively, with little skill, difficulty in positioning himself. It lacked naturalness, benchmarks, fluidity. Muted premiere. The vice-champion of France finished with 9 points at 2/13 on shots, including 1/6 from afar, with 8 rebounds, 3 ists, 3 ball losses and all the same 5 blocks. For the record, San Antonio won 76-68 against Charlotte with 20 points, 8 rebounds and 6 ists from Julian Champagnie. 16 units for Draft No. 2 Brandon Miller, despite his ugly 5/15 on shots.
After having forced on one or two possessions, the giant of Chesnay, holder, began to impact in defense, here by scratching a ball, there by slamming a counter or taking rebounds. With his dribbling skills, he provoked and distilled good balls. His first basket? Near the circle, he managed to turn around despite the fault, with the throw. Protected by the staff, he played the first four minutes before returning for the last of the first quarter. Still no address for “Wemby”, twice too short from afar at the start of the second quarter, but who still struck a counter to make his presence felt. Well defended, he struggled offensively, with another failure from afar when he returned to the floor, at the end of a first period dominated by San Antonio against the (very) clumsy Hornets (36-28 MT). He was very close to slamming a monstrous dunk but ultimately had to settle for two throws.
Score at the break? 5 points at 1/7 on shots, 5 rebounds, 1 ist, 3 blocks, 2 ball losses in 14 minutes. Note that Brandon Miller was as clumsy as Wembanyama, with 7 points at 2/8 on shots. The other Frenchman from Spurs, Sidy Cissoko, shone… in the shadows (0 pt, 6 rbs, 2 pds, 1 int, 1 co). It is more his register, he who comes from the G-League and who finished the meeting with 1 point (0/3), 7 rebounds, 2 ists, 1 interception and 1 against (22 mins).
“Air Ball”, brick and bad choice
In the second period, while Brandon Miller floated for the Hornets but San Antonio continued to widen the gap, Victor Wembanyama had the greatest difficulty showing up. He was even dunked on by Kai Jones, while said Miller mystified him at the dribble. No point in the third quarter for the Frenchman, who committed a big “air ball” on recovery, forcing a baseline shot thereafter. For the show, it was necessary to turn to Champagnie, MVP of the day and author of a monumental dunk on the truffle of James Nnaji. Still lacking in rhythm, confidence, “Wemby” made a huge three-point brick before letting his frustration speak on a ball that he smashed like a volleyball player. With 2’50 to play, he finally returned his first outside shot, a three-pointer before the bonus throw, but he multiplied the bad choices at the end of the match, like this loss of ball on a climb in leader mode . Quite a symbol. There is still work. See you on Sunday, still in Nevada, against the Blazers of Scoot Henderson and Frenchy Rayan Rupert.