With the first pick in the 2023 NBA Draft the basketball world would be shocked if the San Antonio Spurs picked someone other than Victor Wembanyama. With the assumption that the French superstar will play in a Spurs uniform next season, fans have wildly speculated about trade scenarios to get a championship-ready squad around Wembanyama in his rookie season. ESPN commentators have implied he’ll be an all-rookie, an all-NBA selection, and an all-star in year one. With Spurs’ optimism at an all-time high let’s take a step back and evaluate realistic rookie year expectations for Victor Wembanyama.
Rookie Of The Year? Highly Obtainable
One accolade we’d expect Wembanyama to receive is Rookie of the Year. Like Jeremy Sochan, Wembanyama is expected to start as a rookie from day one. As the season goes on his effect on the team will be more profound. He’ll be one of the most talked about rookies in recent memory. As long as he shows improvement throughout the season and leads the Spurs to more than 22 wins Rookie of the Year should be locked in.
Sochan had a great impact on last year’s team and was rewarded with an all-rookie 2nd team selection, but the rules will be different moving forward. Sochan played in 56 games but in accordance with new guidelines to curb load management, Wembanyama will need to play in 65 games to be eligible for Rookie of the Year and the all-rookie team.
Assuming Wembanyama’s health is not in question expect him to play a minimum of 65 games. It would be a shame if, at the end of the season, a healthy Wembanyama was not eligible for any end-of-season awards.
The Victor Wembanyama Effect
In terms of immediate impact, I think we should take a look at the exhibition games between the G-League Ignite and Metropolitans 92. The two game series was the first time Wembanyama played with NBA rules.
The French phenom did not disappoint. In the first game, the first half was a bit slow as Wembanyama adjusted to the new rules. By the second half, he was putting on a show. After creating a breathtaking highlight reel in game one Wemanyama recorded 37 points 7 rebounds and 9 assists. In game two he scored a double-double of 36 points and 11 rebounds.
These numbers will have Spurs fans jumping for joy, but it’s important to remember that the competition level in the G-League is inferior to the NBA by quite a bit. For instance, the Spurs called up Charles Bassey following his 40-point performance in the G-League. In the NBA Bassey’s career high is only 16 points.
Wembanyama’s talent should bring a better conversion rate but expect 15-point games at first and perhaps strings of 20-point games later in the season.
Return To The Post Season? Too Soon To Tell
There are too many unknowns about next season to give a realistic take on the play-in or playoff expectations. But if the Spurs are essentially the same team as last season, plus Wembanyama it’s important to remember the team is very young. Even if they were to make it to the playoffs, their lack of experience would probably mean a first-round exit. We can hope for the best, but we should also prepare ourselves for another rebuilding season.
If A Frenchmen Scores 30 Points In The Forrest…
As far as the other end-of-season awards like all-NBA teams, MVP, and Defensive Player of the Year, it’s up to two factors:
1. Did Wembanyama play well enough to qualify for the awards?
2. Did anyone see him do it?
The Spurs have been trying desperately to shed their image as a “small market team.” They have already received approval to have 4 home games away from the AT&T Center next season. This opens up the possibilities for games in Mexico City and Paris, as well as a trip to Austin.
With a Superstar player like Wembanyama on the team, it’s not unreasonable to think the Austin games couldn’t eventually become an event in the yearly SXSW festival. Imagine Spurs games with a celebrity row!
The other major factor will be nationally televised games. Last season the Spurs only had one. With Wembanyama that number is expected to go up. But the question is how much?
If Wembanyama is outperforming everyone’s expectations will enough people see it for him to get all-star votes? Will he be seen enough to be in the MVP race? Hopefully, the NBA does right by the Spurs and makes them a regular in the rotation of nationally televised games.
Please comment your year one Victor Wembanyama predictions below and we can see who’s right!
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