Spurs @ Sixers: January 22nd on NBA TV
There are so many different types of players in the NBA, and the best players present challenges no matter their size, speed, or strength. Regardless, the Sixers will offer the Spurs a unique challenge in the form of reigning MVP Joel Embiid. There are not many big men with his combination of size, skill, and physicality. This matchup will be a colossal test for Wemby that will prepare him for how to handle all the bruising centers awaiting him on the rest of the schedule.
Everyone knows the number one overall pick prefers not lining up at the five, but cross matchups are simply unavoidable in the modern NBA. The Spurs must figure out how to navigate those situations. There is no doubt Gregg Popovich will have a plan going into this game, but as Mike Tyson famously said, "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." Hopefully, Wemby will be wearing his mouthpiece.
Spurs vs. Thunder: January 24th on ESPN
The NBA is introducing Rivalry Week. This is a magnificent idea to generate more intrigue during the regular season. The Association has been missing some of the intensity generated by the infamous rivalries that increased the sport's popularity in the 80s and 90s. While the Spurs have more obvious adversaries, they have experienced a number of recent playoff series against Oklahoma City.
The Thunder swept their season series with the Spurs last year, and San Antonio must start winning some of these matchups if the NBA wants to push this particularly rivarly. There are also people who believe Chet Holmgren is just as talented as Wemby, and that narrative needs to be put to bed. What better time for the Silver and Black to prove their superiority than in a midseason game on a national stage where both teams should be at their best?
The Spurs went from an afterthought to a franchise in the national spotlight in the course of a single summer. Draft Wembanyama is a signal to the rest of the league that the Spurs are ready for a higher form of war. That's totally fine. Gregg Popovich is to the Spurs what Nick Fury is to the Avengers. He's been assembling the talent necessary to fight back, and now, he has a Hulk.