The San Antonio Spurs selected Victor Wembanyama with the first overall pick of the 2023 NBA Draft 109 days ago. Since then, basketball fans worldwide have been anxiously waiting on the edge of their seats to watch him make his official NBA debut. While the regular season is two weeks out, I had the privilege of going into enemy territory and seeing the French phenom make his first preseason appearance in person with my own two eyes.
From the moment I entered the arena, the atmosphere was absolutely electric; fans of both teams were ecstatic to see Wemby grace the court in what could be the league's next legendary rivalry with former number two overall pick Chet Holmgren. The Thunder and Spurs faithful lined up around the visitors' tunnel, itching to feast their eyes on Victor. The cameras were out the second he took the floor for pregame warmups, and everybody watched him prepare for the upcoming matchup.
The 7-foot-3 sensation started his pregame routine with ballhandling drills, channeling his inner Stephen Curry as he began with two-ball dribbling exercises, which were mesmerizing. Watching how he was so fluent with his handle was captivating because all I could think about was how someone his size should not be able to do that. After that, he spent the rest of the session taking shots around the floor.
As the highly anticipated matchup inched closer, more fans piled into Paycom Center. The energy was palpable, and if you didn't know it was only the preseason, you might have assumed this was a regular season matchup between two contenders with playoff seeding on the line.
When the announcer bellowed Wembanyama as he called the starting lineups, the entire crowd let out a roar. His debut was a special moment for Spurs fans, and it was a must-see event for diehard hoopheads across the association. Tip-off ensued at center court, and Victor went to work in a first-quarter battle with Chet Holmgren that left everyone in awe. Both players traded buckets and big-time plays, and everyone in the building held their breath to see what would happen next.
We all had the opportunity to witness the generational potential that Wembanyama could live up to. But watching it from up above was like watching poetry in motion.
You got to see every last subtle detail during his time on the court. One thing that stood out was how Wembanyama took advantage of his length on every possession. On defense, it was artwork to see how much ground he could cover and the commotion he created around the perimeter. His presence completely changed the defensive structure for the Spurs, and he also made a massive impact at the rim. Wemby can do almost anything imaginable, and we saw that with this beautiful steal and slam early in the opening frame.
His ridiculously long strides created a newfound breakneck pace on the fast break. The Victor and Zach Collins tandem is already impressive, and it was impossible not to notice how having another enormous body on the interior allowed Wembanyama to leak out in transition so quickly. With his length, it only took three steps before he was miles ahead of the rest of the pack.
Offensively, Wembanyana is everything they said he would be. He is a legitimate game-changer who can score from all three levels and make something out of nothing. His shot creation is something San Antonio hasn't had in quite some time, and the fact they now have someone who can manufacture instant buckets at his size is unbelievable.
Of course, we have to talk about how Victor stretched the floor. With five attempts from downtown, he is a big man who can legitimately offer San Antonio integral spacing while providing a reliable scoring threat from beyond the arc. The rookie even nailed a sidestep three off a dribble handoff. Can you name the last time you saw a seven-footer pull up off the bounce with that fluidity from that range?
It's only the preseason, and as hard as it might be, let's try not to overreact to anything. But we just witnessed what should hopefully be the first of many excellent performances from the Spurs' next generational talent.