Wembanyama keeps “fresh head” despite series of 10 defeats

Author of 22 points and 15 rebounds, the Frenchman was not unworthy during the defeat against the Clippers on Wednesday in San Antonio. He remains positive despite the poor results.

And 10. Since their 132-121 success in Phoenix on November 2, the Spurs suffered ten defeats in a row. The latest on Wednesday, at the Frost Bank Center, against the Clippers (102-109) by Kawhi Leonard (26 pts) and Paul George (24 pts). Monday, these same Clippers wandered into San Antonio (99-124) and Victor Wembanyama had hardly shone. Change of scenery this time, even if the result is identical. “It was a more solid match from us. We are on the right track, we see a lot of potential. We take away a lot of positives from this match… beyond the frustration of the defeat», indicated Wembanyama to the press, not failing to note that the LA club “is a contender for the title. We almost did a good job“. Enough to return to -4 at the end of the first period and to -5 in the “money-time», after seeing the visitors lead by 18 points in the second half.

We weren’t skillful in the first quarter but we only took 26 points. We put 92-87 on the next three. It’s obviously not a victory, but our competitiveness was exceptional and our execution is improving, for a team that is discovering itself. I was proud of them. They did a good job», analyzes Gregg Popovich, who we saw annoyed to the point of taking the microphone to asking Spurs fans to stop whistling Kawhi Leonard. Unusual. “It has no cl, it’s not who we are“, he said to the audience… who whistled even more. Remember that Leonard, drafted by San Antonio, was to take over from the “Big Three”. He nevertheless made the choice to leave Texas, which earned him the enmity of the supporters. “They’ll probably whistle at me for the rest of my career if I don’t wear a Spurs jersey», whispered the person concerned. “My reaction ? None in fact, it was during the match… Obviously, it’s an interesting moment (to comment), but in the end it’s not that important“, indicated “Wemby”.

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Effective Wembanyama

Still, the 19-year-old French interior, who made his debut in the NBA a month ago, produced a very clean copy individually: 22 points at 7/13, including 1/2 from long distance , with a nice 7/7 on throws. He also grabbed 15 rebounds (personal NBA record), with 3 ists, 1 interception and 3 blocks in 33 minutes of playing time, with only 2 turnovers. Obviously, he rewarded the public with some exceptional gestures, as usual. In particular several dunks for which he has the secret, on lobs or from the throwing line for example.

Wembanyama was also much more found inside than in certain matches. “He has to manage“, commented “Pop” about the moments when his prodigy must be aggressive. This is the credo of the 74-year-old coach, who lets the Frenchman experiment at the start of the season, giving him as few instructions as possible on the offensive level. “We’re going to watch the videos again and continue to do what works.», ures “Wemby”, questioned about this propensity to cause mistakes on Wednesday. The former Nanterre, Asvel and Boulogne-Levallois player, however, did not convert a single basket in the first quarter, won 26-14 by the Clippers. “It’s just like that. I didn’t have a basket but I didn’t turn down an open shot either. I made the right choices and we had a good first quarter. There are probably things to correct, but overall it was good“, he notes.

Even if everything is far from perfect, the number 1 of the 2023 Draft averages 18.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.6 blocks (15 matches). Individually, the score is there… even if he could do better in terms of skill (43% on shots, including 27.5 at 3 pts), ball losses (3.5/match) and shots decision. Collectively, there is work in all sectors, that’s obvious. And anything but a surprise. “They set up a certain form… no hierarchy, but they are more together, not leaving each other on an island. Whether it’s a good series or a bad series, they stay together, continue to talk about what we have to do offensively, defensively», says Popovich, who likes to see the gl half full.

Read alsoNBA: the Spurs react… but suffer a 10th consecutive defeat, Wembanyama skillful and in sight

We have the right state of mind.

Victor Wembanyama

In recent days, the players have spoken. “Communication within the team is necessarily good. We are lucky because we have a good connection between us. There are never bad intentions. We have the right state of mind“, swears Wembanyama. And to continue: “Within the team, we are almost all young players learning, new role, new life, new job…» Faced with the Clippers and their four future members of the Hall of Fame, the contrast is necessarily striking. “It is a very experienced team. We can’t trick them, they make very few mistakes. They don’t bite at feints or basic tactics. It’s a good challenge but we responded well most of the time. Soon it will be better“, he promises, while “his” Spurs will play five of their next matches far from their bases (Golden State, Denver, Atlanta, New Orleans, Houston).

Good news ? Devin Vell returned after a three-game absence and Jeremy Sochan is progressing in his new leadership role. They scored 18 and 19 points respectively on Wednesday. “Pop talked to us about mindset at halftime. We have leaders, Jeremy is one of themexplains Wembanyama. It’s good. He is learning a new role but we are there to help him and he reures us. I’m happy that we have such a solid foundation mentally», He continues, speaking after every match since the start of the season, with the exception of Monday. In any case, the French international (24 years old) wants to be positive and above all not stunned by the accumulation of defeats. A new context for him. Former ? “I don’t have the hindsight yet to draw conclusions because that’s all I know about the NBA. But for now it’s okay, we’re keeping our heads cool“, he ures. To be continued ? Friday, in San Francisco, on the floor of the Golden State Warriors.

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