The highly-anticipated debut of the number one overall draft pick Victor Wembanyama at Summer League drew more attention to the San Antonio Spurs organization than they are used to. Although the 19-year-old was launched into a nearly unprecedented level of sports celebrity when he arrived stateside, it was still astounding to see him fill 17,500 seats at a sold out Thomas & Mack Center for his first unofficial NBA minutes last Friday night.
Not only did Wembanyama command the attention of everyone in attendance at Las Vegas Summer League, but he helped the league break viewership records, with an average of 456,000 fans tuning in for each game. While the Spurs and most of their young prospects flew under the radar amid another losing season last year, this newfound spotlight now puts them under the same microscope as their new superstar teammate.
Adding the 7-foot-3 forward to the roster has caused other fan bases to look closely at the structure surrounding Victor. Julian Champagnie has received praise as a sharpshooting go-getter after three 20-plus point performances at Summer League. Dominick Barlow has also made noise as an up-and-coming force on the defensive end. There are high hopes for veteran swingman Devin Vassell, who is due for a breakout after recovering from a midseason knee surgery. And though there were questions about Jeremy Sochan at the free throw line, his strides in that area have people curious to see him and Wemby team up inside the paint.
There are so many promising developments for this young squad that critics and the media are just starting to figure out. Everyone is waiting to see where the Spurs go from here now that they have the "best prospect since Lebron" leading the way. Their ability to develop players will be scrutinized at every turn, especially after Gregg Popovich agreed to a five-year contract extension to stay with the organization. With the winningest head coach of all time, a generational prospect, and one of the best young cores in the NBA, opposing teams are on high alert. However, the weight of earning their respect on the court will ultimately be in the hands of the players.