Victor Wembanyama’s NBA Preseason Debut Against Up-and-coming Thunder
It has been 193 days, or 4,632 hours since the last official NBA action of the San Antonio Spurs. During this period, the Spurs won the draft lottery, selected Victor Wembanyama as the number one overall pick, extended Gregg Popovich’s contract, and signed Devin Vassell to the largest contract in franchise history. Finally, on Monday, we will witness the results of their efforts.
Although it is just a preseason game, there is a different feeling compared to last year. The anticipation of watching Wembanyama compete against NBA players is undeniable. This is not only a must-watch for Spurs fans, but it could also be one of the most significant events of the week for basketball enthusiasts in general. In the previous season, the San Antonio Spurs appeared on national television only four times. However, this game marks the beginning of 19 opportunities for fans to see the team play in front of a national audience.
The Spurs will face the up-and-coming Oklahoma City Thunder in this game. The matchup between Wembanyama and Chet Holmgren has generated a lot of hype. Although this game may not have long-term implications, it provides an opportunity for both players to set the stage for their rivalry. The Thunder possess a group of young talents who will be competing for spots in the rotation. The preseason holds significance for them, irrespective of the win-loss record.
In the past, the San Antonio Spurs have used the preseason to establish their rotation and strategy for the regular season. However, it will be interesting to see how the team operates this time as Popovich has mentioned that they are still adapting to the new roster.
San Antonio Spurs (0-0) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (0-0)
October 9, 2023 | 7 p.m. CT
Watch: NBA TV/Bally | Listen: WOAI/KXTN
Spurs injuries: Khem Birch – Questionable (undisclosed), Jeremy Sochan – Questionable (undisclosed), Keldon Johnson – Questionable (undisclosed)
Thunder injuries: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Questionable (rest), Vasilije Micic – Out (ankle), Aleksej Pokusevski – Out (arm)
What to watch for
Victor Wembanyama’s debut
What can fans expect from Wembanyama in his first preseason game? After a somewhat disappointing debut in the summer league, it is possible that he might start slow. Holmgren poses a good challenge for Wembanyama, being a long and versatile player with a competitive edge.
During the summer league and Spurs scrimmage, we witnessed Wemby’s impact as a defender both inside and outside the paint, as well as his passing ability. Even if Wembanyama struggles to score efficiently, his basketball IQ and defensive skills will be evident. David Robinson holds the record for the most points scored by a Spurs rookie with 41 against the Golden State Warriors in March 1990. Wembanyama will be aiming to surpass that record and achieve more milestones this season.
Who will make up the starting five?
Spurs fans have been debating all summer about who will start games. With Wembanyama, Tre Jones, Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson, Jeremy Sochan, and Zach Collins, San Antonio has at least six players capable of starting. The team has not provided any indication of their preferred starting lineup. Monday night’s game will offer the first glimpse of the team’s preferences.
The Thunder team is physically imposing, with players like Josh Giddey, a legitimate 6-foot-8 guard, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a big guard. Jalen Williams is built like an NBA forward and more like a linebacker. The Spurs may need to opt for a larger lineup to match the Thunder’s size. It should be noted that Sochan and Johnson, two of the Spurs’ versatile wings, did not participate in the team’s scrimmage on Saturday. It is still uncertain if they will be available for this game.
Which young players will prove themselves?
The end of the last season focused on determining which young Spurs players would have a long-term future with the team. Dominick Barlow, Julian Champagnie, and Sandro Mamukelashvili earned spots on the roster this season. The preseason offers them an opportunity to make their case for playing time.
In addition to those three, newcomers like Sidy Cissoko and Cedi Osman will be competing for roles against returning players like Doug McDermott, Charles Bassey, Devonte’ Graham, and Blake Wesley. As the Spurs still need to cut one more player, there is ample motivation to secure a role. Despite their poor finish last season, the Spurs find themselves with considerable depth and multiple players who could be part of the rotation. The preseason presents an opportunity to see who will step up.
Emily Turner is your source for everything NBA. As a dedicated basketball enthusiast, she offers insights into NBA games, player highlights, trade rumors, and the league’s evolving dynamics. Emily’s love for the sport shines through in her comprehensive NBA coverage.