Curiosity: How did Victor Wembanyama’s eyes improve after a shaky Summer League debut?
The Summer League debut of the French basketball prodigy Victor Wembanyama was uneven. Despite showing glimpses of his enormous potential, his performance suffered from inconsistency in his shooting and decision making. Wembanyama showed a noticeable improvement in his vision and court-awareness throughout the Summer League.
Wembanyama struggled in his first games to make accurate passes and find his teammates. As the Summer League progressed he appeared to adjust and adapt to the increased pace and physicality of the games. The improved court vision enabled him to make better offensive reads, which resulted in more precise passes and an increase in assists. Also, his increased awareness was reflected on the defensive end where he displayed an improved ability to anticipate pass lanes and disrupt opponent’s offensive sets. Victor Wembanyama has room to improve his game. However, his eyes have shown significant improvements in his ability see the court, and make intelligent decisions. This bodes well for his development in the future.
LAS VEGAS – Emotionless, unaffected even by a shaking NBA 2K24 Summer League debut, No. Victor Wembanyama went through a checklist to determine what improvements were required before the regular season of 2023-24.
“There’s a lot of conditioning to do to be able to play an 82-game season,” He said. “When I was sent out [of the game], I was always tired and exhausted.”
The San Antonio Spurs and Wembanyama dropped to No. Charlotte Hornets No. 2 Brandon Miller 76-68 in front of a sellout crowd that packed the lower bowl of the Thomas & Mack Center nearly five hours before tipoff in anticipation of greatness. The fans screaming “we want Wemby” Throughout the night, I was hit with a dose of reality on several occasions.
The 19-year old scored nine points with a 2-for-13 shot, eight rebounds and five blocks. He also had three assists. The French phenom missed his first five three-pointers before finally nailing one late in the fourth period that roused the crowd.
“Special moment. It was really special to wear that jersey for the first time,” Wembanyama said. “It’s really an honor. Overall, I’m glad we won this game. Honestly, I didn’t really know what I was doing on the court tonight. But I’m trying to learn for the next games. The important [part] is to be ready for the season.”
Spurs fans in large numbers would agree. Coach Gregg Popovich was back at the Summer League, for the very first time since recent years. Jeremy Sochan and Brett Brown, assistant coaches, were all in attendance, along with R.C. Buford, CEO, and general manager Brian Wright. Buford watched from nearby.
Keldon Vassell and Devin Johnson also attended their teammate’s Summer League premiere, after practicing with the rookie in San Antonio prior to traveling with him.
“There’s a really good dynamic with this group. It’s not every team that would have almost the whole team on the sideline like this,” Wembanyama said. “Of course, they were always supportive. I practiced with them a little bit. So, they gave me advice. They trust me. They believe in me. It’s really comforting.”
All 17,500 tickets were snapped up by fans, and many of them rushed into the arena as soon as the doors opened.
Wembanyama appeared to be on his way to a great show by displaying playmaking abilities, ballhandling skills, unselfishness and prowess in defending the rim, as well a knack of finding teammates with pinpoint passing in tight quarters.
The rookie forward also attempted too many moves near the bucket as defenders collapsed onto him. He also tried to make too many moves as the defenders pressed against him.
After a year in the French League, he was drafted by San Antonio at No. 1 overall. After the Summer League squad left to play in the California Classic Summer LeagueWembanyama worked out with veteran Spurs teammates who are expected to be key players next season.
Wembanyama has only played on the Summer League team for one practice session on Thursday and his debut on Friday. It shows.
“He hadn’t played with those guys yet,” assistant coach Matt Nielsen said. “He did a good job. There was a lot of attention on him. Overall, I thought he executed really well.”
Not all the time.
But nobody should put too much emphasis on the performance of a rookie over the summer. Tim Duncan, a five-time NBA champion, didn’t struggle at all when he made his debut in the summer of 1997. It’s true that he didn’t have the pedigree to carry him or the franchise through a Hall of Fame and 20+ year run of dominance.
Wembanyama is given another chance on Sunday8 ET, ESPN2San Antonio will play Portland on the same day as No. Scoot Henderson, the 3rd overall pick.
“Sometimes I was off-rhythm with the plays and the calls,” Wembanyama said. “I think the biggest improvements I’ve got to do is be ready to react to the plays that were called by the point guard and stay connected.”
When asked about the poster-dunk Kai Jones scored in the third quarter after Nick Smith Jr. hit an alley-oop, he replied that similar issues appeared defensively.
“We’ve got a lot to adjust on defense because I often guard [players that are] not the big man,” He said. “This is what I was talking about earlier [as far as] staying connected with what the defense is. We’re gonna get scored on sometimes. It’s gonna happen. The good thing is it’s the Summer League and we’re here to learn.”
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Warner Bros. or the NBA. Discovery.