Victor Wembanyama Shines as San Antonio Spurs Struggle

Basketball boy Victor Wembanyama shines with a triple-double for the San Antonio Spurs. Otherwise there isn’t much to celebrate for the team from Texas.

Victor Wembanyama (center) of the San Antonio Spurs in the game against the Toronto Raptors on February 12 Photo: John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports/reuters

There hasn’t been anything like this in 34 years! It was a very special triple-double. NBA newcomer Victor Wembanyama scored 27 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocks on Monday evening in the San Antonio Spurs’ 122:99 defeat of the Toronto Raptors. Spurs legend David Robinson last achieved this in the 1989/90 season.

A miraculous performance, then, and yet it was nothing less than exactly what was expected from Wembanyama before this season. The 2.27 meter tall and only 20 year old Frenchman is often called an alien. He has already been compared to Jesus, who walked on water, or to basketball legend LeBron James, who is also considered to be part of the supernatural circle.

The horizon of expectations for Wembanyama is correspondingly broad. And in stark contrast are the all-too-mundane achievements of his team so far. With 18 defeats in a row, the San Antonio Spurs posted a negative record in their history in mid-December and, despite a slight upward trend in recent weeks, are currently in last place in the Western Conference.

Criticism arose in Texas that Wembanyama was not included enough in the game and that his playing times were too short. But 75-year-old coaching legend Gregg Popovich still thinks big. Last summer he extended his contract by five years. And Wembanyama isn’t fazed by the results either. He recently said: “It took me time to figure out how I want to play and how I need to play for the team. I think everyone needed time to figure out how to play with me.”

In any case, this is criticism at the highest level. The lack of results masked the extraordinary ideas of the Frenchman, who despite his incredible size has incredible mobility. This enables him to be an all-rounder. A comparison of the statistics from his first 44 NBA games with those of LeBron James highlights this impressively. He is only slightly inferior to James (20.8) in terms of average points per game (20.4). His shooting efficiency is better in front of and behind the three-point line. And he has significantly better values ​​when it comes to rebounds and blocks. With 3.2 blocks per game, he is by far the best in the NBA in this discipline this season.

what Wembanyama would be capable of

His teammate Devin Vassell said Monday night: “When I’m playing defense and I get beat, it’s almost like I’m saying, ‘Go ahead. Just try it.’ I know he’s back there watching my back.”

There is a lot of room for imagination as to what achievements Wembanyama would only be capable of in a well-staffed team. This is what the San Antonio Spurs want to do in the medium term. The poor ranking in the table at least has the advantage that you should be one of the first to pick the best talents in the next draft.

Vasell has a forecast for the future that also sounds like a warning to the competition: “It will be scary to see what he will look like in the next three or four years, what our team chemistry will look like, what me and him will look like will play duo.”

Coach Greg Popovich has lost his cool anyway. For his working method, he modeled himself on the Danish-American journalist and photographer Jacob Riis, who once said: “When nothing seems to help, I look at a stonemason who hammers on his rock perhaps a hundred times without it either only a crack shows. But at the hundredth and first blow it splits in two, and I know that it was not this blow that did it – but everything that came before.”

2024-02-13 16:05:51
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