For the first time since 1997, the San Antonio Spurs will pick first in the NBA draft. When they last had it, they selected Tim Duncan, arguably the greatest power forward of all time. This time, they’ll have another shot at taking a franchise star and rebuilding their dynasty. Their pick: Victor Wembanyama, the most touted prospect since LeBron James.
Analyzing the San Antonio Spurs and Victor Wembanyama
Best Prospect since LeBron James?
No, it’s not an exaggeration. Wembanyama stands at 7’4″ with a wingspan of 8 feet. That would be the longest wingspan in the NBA.
Wemby has literally been described as a 7’4″ version of Kevin Durant. Playing for the Metropolitans 92 this past season of the LNB Pro A League, Wembanyama averaged 21.5 PPG, along with 10.4 RPG and a trio of blocks per game.
He is more than just a center, though. He’s also become an effective perimeter scorer, shooting 47%. Not only is this a great move for Wembanyama, but it’s also a great move for the Spurs.
What are the Spurs Getting Here?
The Spurs are in a massive rebuild after shipping out Dejounte Murray last season and Jakob Poetl to the Raptors midway through this season. With Wemby, the Spurs get a substitution at center for Poetl, but there’s more. They are also getting a once-in-a-generational talent and a cornerstone to Greg Popovich’s offense.
They are getting a guy who can shoot efficiently, space out the floor, and dominate the glass. With the recent emergence of young talents in Devin Vassel, Tre Jones, and Keldon Johnson, the Spurs are finally getting the last piece of the puzzle. As part of the rebuild, Wembanyama’s presence will be felt immediately on both the offensive end and defense, noted by his three blocks per game. He is also a versatile player who can shift between center and power or small forward, depending on how the Spurs align their lineup.
Given the way Popovich and the Spurs have been able to develop talent, this one seems like a no-brainer. Given what the Spurs have developed with the first overall pick over their history, it’s fair to say things are looking good. As long as he can stay healthy, Wemby brings hope and a strong future for a team looking to recreate their dynasty.
Just How Good Will the Spurs Be Going Forward?
This is the golden question. After making the playoffs in 22 consecutive years, the Spurs have not made it in their last four seasons. This past year, the Spurs finished 22-60, considered very uncharacteristic in the Popovich era.
Yes, drafting Wembanyama is a much-needed improvement for a team looking to rebuild, but it doesn’t mean a championship right away. The Spurs are one of the youngest rosters in the league, with a young nucleus and little to no playoff experience.
As such, I expect that the San Antonio Spurs will finish around .500, perhaps getting a chance in the play-in games. However, there is now hope for this young team. With another future first-round pick via the Poetl trade to Toronto, the Spurs are only getting better.