Wembanyama Debuts in San Antonio on Saturday
Challenged for the U.S. stage after winning six titles on the Futsal Court
Played 21 minutes in exhibition games and averaged 19 points
“I’m confident in my physicality,” dismisses some concerns
San Antonio’s Victor Wembanyama
Right, rises to block a 3-point shot by opponent Jermaine Kane during an NBA exhibition game
against Miami on Friday. A 3-point shot block is usually attempted by staying close to the
shooter’s body, but Wembanyama, a 6-foot-9 center, moves away and raises his arms as if hijacking the ball as it heads toward the rim.
Victor ‘Alien’ Wembanyama
(19, San Antonio – pictured) is officially invading the National Basketball Association (NBA). The
official opening game of the 2023-2024 NBA season is on the 25th, when the Los Angeles
Lakers take on Denver. But fans’ attention will turn to San Antonio’s home game on the 26th,
when Wembanyama will make his NBA debut against Dallas. Dallas is led by “Slovenian
Express” Luka Doncic, 24, who arrived from Europe before Wembanyama.
Born in 2004 in the suburbs of Paris, France, Wembanyama led the French LNB in scoring (21.6
ppg), rebounding (10.4 rpg), and blocks (3.0 spg) last season and was named the league’s
youngest Most Valuable Player (MVP). He also earned six All-Star nods, including Young Player
of the Year and Best 5. He became an NBA player when he was selected with the No. 1 overall
pick in this year’s rookie draft in June.
Wembanyama has been called a “paradigm shifter” because he’s bigger than most centers at
6-foot-9, but has the speed, elasticity, and flexibility of a guard. LeBron James (39-LA Lakers),
the NBA’s all-time leading scorer (38,652 points), once said, “If other prospects are ‘unicorns’
(referring to extraordinary players), Wembanyama is just an alien.” While it was pointed out
that he would be “outmuscled” due to his low weight (95 kilograms) compared to his height,
Wembanyama was confident in his physicality, stating that “the NBA is faster (than Europe), but there is less physical contact.
Proved why he was labeled the “talent of the century” in the exhibition games, averaging 19.3
points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game. He ranked first among centers in scoring and first
overall in blocks despite averaging less than half the minutes per game (20:54) as he did in the full season (48 minutes).
Wembanyama was particularly flying against Golden State in the final exhibition game on Nov.
21. A clip of him recording two blocks on defense midway through the first quarter and then
going on a nine-point run, including a dunk and a 3-pointer on the fast break, has been viewed
more than 300,000 times on YouTube. “In a span of just a minute and a half, Wembanyama
displayed a skill and scale unrivaled in NBA history. He could be the perfect player.”
Ahead of Wembanyama’s NBA debut
USA Today ran an article recalling the NBA debuts of “legends” like James and Kareem Abdul-
Jabbar (76). James had 25 points, six rebounds, and nine assists in his NBA debut, while Abdul-
Jabbar had a “double-double” with 29 points and 12 rebounds. USA Today pointed out the fact
that Wembanyama’s debut opponent, Dallas, is a poor defensive team, saying, “There’s no
reason to assume Wembanyama will outplay Doncic right away. But (Dallas’ poor defense) is
reason enough to expect Wembanyama to do very well in front of a home crowd.” 19가이드03