Victor Wembanyama finds perfect fit: Why Spurs are ready for speedy rebuild with top NBA Draft prospect
Victor Wembanyama may have been watching the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery in France, but he could probably hear the cheers coming from Texas.
The Spurs earned the No. 1 overall pick at Tuesday night's drawing, giving them the opportunity to select Wembanyama, who is widely considered the best prospect since LeBron James. While he didn't have a list of preferred destinations, it was clear that the 19-year-old was excited about heading to San Antonio.
"I'm really, really happy, and I really can't wait to meet the fans and to meet hopefully the team I'm about to join in June," Wembanyama told ESPN's Brian Windhorst.
Those feelings make a lot of sense because the Spurs are positioned to maximize Wembanyama's talent better than any lottery team, and he can bring the franchise back to relevance after a rough stretch.
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How Victor Wembanyama fits on Spurs' roster
At 7-5 with guard skills, Wembanyama is a player that can slide into any lineup, but he should experience a particularly seamless transition in San Antonio. The Spurs already had a bunch of strong role players — they just needed a centerpiece. Well, here's your French phenom.
Jeremy Sochan, who earned a spot on the All-Rookie Second Team this season, is a physical, versatile defender. He can take on the more rugged assignments as Wembanyama adds weight to his frame and allow him to roam as a helper.
As he has shown for Metropolitans 92 in France's LNB Pro A league, Wembanyama can dominate defensively with his instincts and 8-foot wingspan.
Wemby blocks ➡️➡️➡️— NBA (@NBA) March 14, 2023
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📲 https://t.co/oznD5Nb8Su pic.twitter.com/mkNdjmeuJa
Offensively, none of the Spurs' key players come with a "ball hog" label. Sochan, Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell should complement Wembanyama's game. If San Antonio re-signs Tre Jones, that would give Wembanyama a solid facilitator at point guard.
Imagine Wembanyama running a pick-and-pop with Jones while Vassell spots up in the near corner, giving Wembanyama space to operate.
This move from Wemby in the clutch 🤯 pic.twitter.com/RznZqxI5fg— NBA (@NBA) February 4, 2023
It's also a bonus that the members of the Spurs' young core are all on a similar timeline. They can grow under the tutelage of Gregg Popovich.
The Spurs' great history of player development, improvement
The last two times San Antonio landed the top pick, the front office selected David Robinson (1987) and Tim Duncan (1997). Worked out pretty well, huh?
Wembanyama is certainly a different type of big man than Robinson or Duncan, but Popovich's experience goes beyond those Hall of Famers.
When he served as an assistant coach on Don Nelson's Warriors staff in 1993-94, Popovich saw the potential of a young Chris Webber. He has also gotten the most out of guys like LaMarcus Aldridge, Boris Diaw and Tiago Splitter over the past decade.
The development stories extend to the perimeter, too. Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard are just a few of the players who benefited from being in the Spurs' system.
Yesss he’s going to the @spurs !!! So proud of you💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/vblbw0lcbL— Tony Parker (@tonyparker) May 17, 2023
The Spurs can quickly build around Victor Wembanyama
Wembanyama wants to "win a ring ASAP," but even the most NBA-ready prospects can't flip a team from basement dweller to top contender overnight. San Antonio does have the tools to expedite a rebuild, though.
The Spurs will be loaded with cap space heading into the offseason. In addition to the first pick in this year's draft, they own the No. 33 pick near the top of the second round. They also have a ton of future draft capital.
If the organization's decision-makers believe Wembanyama will be an impact player very early in his career, they can pursue roster upgrades via free agency or the trade market. The idea isn't that crazy considering Wembanyama led Metropolitans 92 to second place in the league standings this season.
The great thing about having Wembanyama on the team? No matter what path the Spurs choose, they will likely find success. This is simply a terrific pairing.