The San Antonio Spurs pick Victor Wembanyama with the first pick in the NBA Draft of 2023

The San Antonio Spurs pick Victor Wembanyama with the first pick in the NBA Draft of 2023

NEW YORK — It’s a done deal. Victor Wembanyama is going to San Antonio to play for the Spurs and coach Gregg Popovich, a Hall of Famer. The 7-foot-4 French star is the best NBA talent since LeBron James came into the league 20 years ago. Since May 16, when it was announced that the Spurs would have the first pick in the 2023 NBA Draft for the third time in club history, they have been preparing for Wembanyama’s arrival.

Victor Wembanyama was calm and happy all week, but when he was finally picked as the No. 1 player, he felt a lot of different things.

The last two No. 1 picks that the Spurs made were hugely successful for the team. First, it was David Robinson in 1987, and then, 10 years later, it was Tim Duncan. All five NBA titles won by the team were with either Robinson or Duncan, and the two of them won two titles together. Both were on the league’s 75th-anniversary team and are in the Hall of Fame.

Victor Wembanyama is the first player from France ever to be picked first overall. He is also the first European player who didn’t play college basketball in the United States to be picked first overall since Andrea Bargnani was picked first by the Toronto Raptors in 2006. Wembanyama joins a long list of skilled French players who have played in the NBA, including current Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert, current Detroit Pistons guard Killian Hayes, and former Spurs guard Tony Parker, who won four NBA titles.

Wembanyama had the most points (21.6), rebounds (10.4), and blocks (3.1) per game in the French LNB Pro A league. He was named the league MVP. His team, Metropolitans 92, made it to the LNB Pro A Finals, where Monaco swept them just days before the NBA Draft.

Victor Wembanyama’s impressive credentials make him the first pick in the 2023 NBA Draft

Since he came on the scene at a young age, Victor Wembanyama has done more than anyone thought he would. Even though he was three years younger than most of the other players, Wembanyama helped France’s JSF Nanterre U18 team finish second in the French League when he was only 14. Around this time, scouts from all over Europe began to notice Wembanyama. After that, he played for Parker’s official team, ASVEL Basket, until this past season, when he switched to the Metropolitans 92.

In two practice games against Scoot Henderson and the G League Ignite in the Las Vegas area last October, Wembanyama averaged 36.5 points, 4.5 blocks, and points from all over the court. He made long, step-back 3-pointers and caught impossible-to-reach lobs for dunks while the team was moving. He had a season-high seven 3-pointers and five blocks in the first game.

Why the San Antonio Spurs need Victor Wembanyama

Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, Tre Jones, and Jeremy Sochan make up the young group. All of them are 23 or younger. Victor Wembanyama grew up with this group and had already played with Sochan when they were 12 and 14 years old at a camp.

“It was at Tony Parker’s gym in France,” Sochan said in February to Yahoo Sports. “He wasn’t as big as he is now, but it’s cool to see what he’s doing. I think he’ll live up to all the hype, which will be exciting. He can help the Spurs with his energy, how he moves, and how many things he can do. He is so smooth and one of a kind.”

Wembanyama made every player around him better in his last year in France, no matter what the schedule was. He has the offensive tools to spread the floor and draw a double team, and he’s big enough to find an open partner when the defense falls apart. Last season, Johnson led the Spurs in scoring 22 points per game. Wembanyama will play in the frontcourt with 6-foot-11 forward Zach Collins, giving the Spurs much-needed length and rim defense in the lane.

Battle of the bigs: Victor Wembanyama vs. Chet Holmgren

With 7-foot-2 Chet Holmgren coming back to play for the Oklahoma City Thunder this coming season, competition is starting to form between San Antonio and Oklahoma City. Holmgren missed his first year because of a foot injury. During the 2023–24 season, he will be qualified for all rookie awards.

Wembanyama scored 22 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and blocked eight shots during the FIBA U19 World Cup, but he had to leave the game because of fouls in the fourth quarter. Team USA beat France 83-81, and Holmgren was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. In the last game, Holmgren had 10 points and five assists.

Holmgren told Yahoo Sports before the 2022 NBA Draft, “I’m not going to give my scouting report on him because I’ll be playing him soon once he gets into the league.” “He has a lot of skill and is going to be a problem once he gets to the NBA.”

Wembanyama’s time in the NBA has truly started, and everyone will be watching him when he plays his first game in July during NBA Summer League.

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