Victor Wembanyama wants to get better after a rough start in the Summer League

Victor Wembanyama wants to get better after a rough start in the Summer League

NBA Updates PH: Victor Wembanyama, the No. 1 pick, was emotionless and unmoved by a rough start to the NBA 2K24 Summer League. He ran through a list of things he needs to work on before the 2023-24 regular season starts.

“You have to get in a lot of shape to play 82 games in a season,” he said. “Every time I was kicked out of the game, I was tired and worn out.”

This was clear over 27 minutes on Friday when Victor Wembanyama and the San Antonio Spurs beat No. 2 pick Brandon Miller and the Charlotte Hornets 76-68 in front of a sold-out crowd that filled the lower bowl of the Thomas & Mack Center nearly five hours before tipoff. Fans who yelled “We want Wemby” over and over again throughout the night got a big dose of reality instead.

The 19-year-old had nine points, eight rebounds, five blocks, three assists, and three mistakes, which tied him for the most on the team. The French star’s first five 3-point shots all missed, but he finally made one late in the fourth quarter that got everyone out of their seats.

“Special moment. Wembanyama said, “It was a big deal to wear that shirt for the first time. “It is a real pleasure. I’m glad we won this game in general. I wasn’t sure what I was doing on the court tonight, to be honest. But I’m trying to learn so I can do better in the next games. The important thing is to be ready for the season.”

A lot of Spurs fans were there so that they would agree. Gregg Popovich went to the Summer League for the first time in a few years. He talked with assistant coach Brett Brown and 2022 first-round pick Jeremy Sochan during the game while general manager Brian Wright and CEO R.C. Buford watched from close by.

Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell were also at the Summer League debut of their new teammate. They had trained with the rookie for a couple of sessions in San Antonio before going to Las Vegas with him.

“The way this group works together is great. Victor Wembanyama said, “Not every team would have almost the whole team standing on the sidelines like this.” “Of course, they’ve always been there for me. I did a little bit of work with them. So, they told me what to do. They believe me. They have faith in me. It makes me feel good.”

Fans bought all 17,500 tickets, and when the doors opened, many ran into the building.

Wembanyama looked like he was going to give them a show early on. He was good at making plays, handling the ball, being selfless, and protecting the rim. He also had a knack for finding teammates with pinpoint throws in tight spaces.

Once the forward got the ball close to the basket, though, he dribbled it too much, which led to mistakes that could have been avoided. The rookie also tried to make too many moves as players closed in on him near the basket.

These problems came from the fact that he had just finished a season in the French League right before San Antonio took him with the first pick in the draft. After the club’s Summer League team left last week to play in the California Classic Summer League, Wembanyama worked out in San Antonio with veteran teammates who are expected to play big parts for the Spurs next season.

Wembanyama’s most time on the court with the Summer League team was one practice on Thursday and his first game on Friday, and it showed.

“He hadn’t played with those guys yet,” Matt Nielsen, an assistant coach, said. “He did a good job. A lot of people were looking at him. I thought he did a great job overall.”

Only sometimes, though.

Still, no one should put too much weight on a rookie’s summer success. Tim Duncan, who has won five NBA titles, didn’t have a hard time when he first joined the league in the summer of 1997. But he also didn’t show the pedigree that would take him and the whole team through a Hall of Fame career and a run of dominance lasting more than 20 years.

Wembanyama will get another chance when San Antonio plays Portland and No. 3 overall pick Scoot Henderson on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

Wembanyama said, “Sometimes I was out of sync with the plays and calls.” “I think the biggest things I need to work on are being ready to respond to the plays that the point guard calls and staying connected.”

When asked about Kai Jones’s poster dunk in the third quarter, which came after Nick Smith Jr. threw him an alley-hoop, he said that similar defense problems came up.

“We need to make a lot of changes to our defense,” he said. “I often guard players who aren’t the big man.” “This is what I meant when I said earlier that you should know what the defense is. We are going to get beat sometimes. It’s going to happen. The good news is that we’re here to learn because it’s the Summer League.”

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