The rookie credits the Spurs coach for improving his knowledge of the court and teaching him the importance of patience.

The rookie credits the Spurs coach for improving his knowledge of the court and teaching him the importance of patience.

 

 

Victor Wembanyama is grateful for Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s ongoing advice during his 1st year in the NBA. 

 

Stay up to date on No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama during his rookie campaign with the San Antonio Spurs. A new Wemby Watch drops every Sunday during the season. Here’s what we saw this week:

 

On the court 🏀

 

Wembanyama started the week treating the fans in Austin at the Moody Center to San Antonio’s first victory since Mar. 9. The rookie capped the club’s I-35 series with a historic performance in leading the Spurs to a 122-115 overtime victory against the Brooklyn Nets.

 

In that contest, Wembanyama became the first player in NBA history to post 30-plus points, 15-plus rebounds, 5-plus assists and 5-plus blocks while shooting 50% from the field in a game.

 

The rookie logged 33 points, 16 rebounds, 7 assists and 7 blocks, connecting on 53.8% from the floor and coming up clutch in OT with four points and two blocks to seal the win. 

 

Most importantly, Wembanyama executed nearly flawlessly a gameplan jam-packed with more information, plays and sets installed than at any other time up to that point in the season. Coach Gregg Popovich revealed after the game that the staff loaded up the young Spurs with “a lot of things tonight” that included “some things we’ve never done before.”

 

Wembanyama clearly wants more.

 

“There are regular tactical changes,” the rookie said of Popovich. “I think he’s thinking long-term and he’s really starting to lay the foundations for what we need to do for many years to come. At the same time, we’re discovering things we weren’t necessarily able to execute earlier in the season. So, it’s positive. But there are too many things for me to describe it all to you.”

 

Three straight losses followed the win over Brooklyn, including a 99-97 setback to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday in a game San Antonio led by 17 points.

 

Wemby learned yet another hard lesson that night.

 

“I remember having a thought when we were up by a lot [that] I didn’t put the nail in the coffin,” he said. “That is how I felt. I wanted to have a reaction because it doesn’t matter who’s in front of us. We have to be the same pace, same way and be as aggressive. I wanted to be as aggressive as if it was [Joel] Embiid or Giannis [Antetokounmpo] in front of us.”

 

Wembanyana tallied 31 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks. But another night of gaudy numbers for the French phenom paled in comparison to falling short in a game Wembanyama felt San Antonio should have won.

 

The rookie mentioned committing “mistakes [that] I won’t do again.” 

 

He gets another chance to right the wrongs Monday at home against Phoenix, a team that steamrolled the Spurs on Saturday 131-106.

 

ROY debate 🤔

 

It’s no question the race for the Kia Rookie of the Year has become a two-man chase between the French phenom and Oklahoma City’s Chet Holmgren. For a closer look at their dominant runs this season, check out John Schuhmann’s latest “What We’ve Seen” series highlighting both Holmgren and Wembanyama’s stellar play.

 

Advice from legendary coach 👏 

 

On a large screen hanging high at the Victory Capital Performance Center, a quote reads: “We are owed nothing – we get what we deserve – what we deserve is based on our ability to learn, be disciplined and consistent.”

 

Several feet away, Wembanyama sweats through a one-on-one post-practice session with Popovich and a few assistants that lasts nearly 30 minutes. Wembanyama admits to cherishing each of these workouts with Popovich. They’ve allowed the rookie to progressively add to his bag all season long, which has been key to his surprisingly rapid growth.

 

In this latest session, Pop worked with Wemby on strategies to counter double teams.

 

“It comes down to recognition of situations,” the 20-year-old said Thursday, just minutes after the extra workout. “It’s mostly a team thing to take care of double teams. If we share the ball the right way, we’re going to kill the double teams.”

 

Wembanyama explained that his one-on-one workouts with Pop have improved his “general knowledge of the court” while teaching him the importance of patience “and through reps learning to recognize different types of situations.” Wemby also realizes the need to maximize every extra work session with the Hall of Fame coach.

 

“[They are] not going to happen many times more until the end of the season,” Wembanyama said. “So, yeah, every single one is important. I think it’s pretty precious, and one of the reasons that makes this place the best place. Also, I think I’ve added something out of every single one of these. Even whenever I talk with the coach, I add something every time.”

 

1-man highlight reel 🤯

 

The rookie’s bag of tricks holds more than jaw-dropping dunks or game-sealing blocks (although, there are plenty of those in here). From tight handles, impressive playmaking and ability to get just about any shot he wants, the 7-foot-4 phenom flashed it all this week. Take a look.

 

Check out some of Victor Wembanyama’s best plays from his rookie campaign with the San Antonio Spurs in 2023-24.

 

One stat to know 📊

 

Wembanyana became the second rookie in NBA history (Blake Griffin was the first) to put together multiple 30-15-5 games in a season with a 31-point, 16-rebound performance that included 5 assists and 3 blocks in Friday’s loss to the Grizzlies.

 

DPOY case ✋

 

Steve Aschburner highlights Wembanyama’s impressive defense and why the leading rookie could sway media panel voters in the Defensive Player of the Year category as well.

 

Tunnel drip 💧🇫🇷

 

The rookie pulled up to the Spurs game against the Nets in Austin rocking a custom French jersey in honor of the upcoming Euro 2024 tournament. 

 

 

Gideon Canice

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