The San Antonio Spurs dropped their season opener to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night, but their treasure trove of young talent gave fans several reasons to look forward to the rest of the schedule. Keldon Johnson showcased improved playmaking, Devin Vassell buried pull-up jumpers, Jeremy Sochan stuffed the stat sheet in his first go-round at point guard, and Victor Wembanyama had the entire hoops community locked in for his NBA debut, including a superstar opponent.
Though foul trouble limited the rookie sensation to 23 minutes in his official launch party, he strung together highlight reel sequences almost every time he touched the basketball, ending the evening with 15 points, five rebounds, and two steals on 6-of-9 shooting from the field. Wembanyama might not have been as assertive as expected after a white-hot preseason. But Luka Doncic still took time during his postgame press conference to talk about how impressed he was with his size and skill.
Doncic highlighted the unbelievable mobility of the seven-footer, one of the unique traits that helped catapult him to the top of every Big Board across the planet last season. We have never seen anyone with his mixture of athletic fluidity, mind-boggling length, and polished scoring. Coaches are cooking up brand-new defensive schemes, players are looking directly into cameras with disbelief like sitcom characters, and referees are figuring out how to officiate the extraterrestrial teenager.
Despite falling short of their longtime divisional rivals, the Silver and Black have time on their side this season. This decorated organization is only on page one of the Wembanyama experiment, and Gregg Popovich is the perfect person to flesh out the concept of these promising prospects into a coherent success story. San Antonio will have an opportunity to redeem themselves against another intrastate adversary when they face the Houston Rockets at Frost Bank Center on Friday night.