The San Antonio Spurs have been much better of late. Yes, they are 10-38 at the moment, and that is far from a good or even decent record, but their play over the last several games has been much better. They even defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves, who were first in the conference at the time and still are.
Spurs fans have been a bit frustrated with several things- who wouldn’t when the team is 10-38 and bottom of the conference by five games- but some of the loudest frustrations have been regarding the minutes limit of uber-rookie Victor Wembanyama.
It is understandable to want to ease a star player back into playing extensive minutes each night. A knock on Wembanyama was his lack of an NBA-ready body at the beginning of the season. The Spurs also were not expected to contend this season, and there’s no reason to force him out there when he isn’t 100 percent healthy.
The issue with this all is Wembanyama is a gamer and an ultra-competitor. It’s clear he has a will to win and wants to be on the floor as much as possible, ankle injury or not.
Head coach Gregg Popovich has a plan. He’s had one for years now, and he’s been pretty successful at implementing his plans over the years (understatement of the century). There’s more to the big picture than we’re seeing at this point. I am sure of it, but his handling of Wembanyama through his ankle injury is a bit puzzling.
It appears that Coach Pop is lifting the minutes restriction slowly of late. Wembanyama played in both games of the back to back against Portland and Minnesota- both wins.
For the season, Wembanyama is averaging 28.6 minutes per game, just over half a 48-minute contest. During that time, he’s averaging a double-double of 20.6 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Victor is also chipping in 3.1 assists each night and a whopping 3.2 blocks, which leads the the NBA.
He was named the Rookie of the Month for January (Sharing with Brandon Miller of Charlotte) and has been a game changer for the silver and black when he’s on the court.
Wembanyama is a different player than anyone in the NBA has ever seen before- 7’4” with the abilities of a guard and the defensive acumen of some of the greatest in the game. This likely has provided some confusion for Coach Pop on how exactly to deploy Wemby.
Victor Wembanyama needs to be fully unleashed on the league.
Spurs nation understands he lacks some physical size, critics say he’s too skinny and may not be fully ready for the physicality of a full NBA season. Spurs fans also are smart enough to realize what kind of game-changing player Wembanyama is every time he steps on the floor. He’s a matchup nightmare and an eraser on defense.
Victor is a 20-year-old kid who has all the energy in the world. It appears the Spurs are beginning to settle on a regular rotation, and now is the time to ramp up the minutes for their impact players and allow the bench players to get their situational time.
Wembanyama needs to play to gain more experience and to adapt his body to the rigors of an NBA season at the center position.
Let’s just make sure we give Coach Pop the benefit of the doubt that he’s got a plan, and that the future is bright in San Antonio.