Thursday, April 18, 2024
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Wembanyama struggles in NBA Summer League debut

LAS VEGAS (AFP) – NBA top draft pick Victor Wembanyama delivered a lackluster performance in his long-awaited San Antonio debut, struggling for long stretches as the Spurs defeated Charlotte 76-68 in an NBA Summer League contest yesterday.

The 19-year-old French prodigy, who stands 2.24 metres, knows he has a lot to learn to live up to his hype as the NBA’s best prospect since LeBron James some 20 years ago.

Wembanyama made only two-of-13 shots from the floor, just one-of-six from three-point range, and finished with nine points, eight rebounds, five blocked shots and three assists in just over 27 minutes on the court.

“Honestly, I really didn’t know what I was doing on the court tonight,” Wembanyama said.

“But I’m trying to learn for the next games and the important (thing) is to be ready for the season.”

After his first taste of on-court life in the NBA, coming against his fellow young talents and newcomers, Wembanyama learned he needs to move faster and react better when plays are called.

San Antonio Spurs centre Victor Wembanyama dribbles the ball against Charlotte Hornets forward Brandon Miller. PHOTO: AFP

“The hardest for me was understanding – sometimes I was off with reading the plays and the calls,” he said.

“The biggest improvement I’ve got to do, it’s being ready to react to the plays that were called by the point guard. Stay connected.”

A sellout crowd of 17,500 spectators jammed the Thomas and Mack Arena to watch Wembanyama wear a Spurs jersey for the first time.

“Special moment, really special, to wear that jersey for the first time. It’s really an honour,” Wembanyama said.

“Overall, I’m glad we won this game. There’s no better way to start for a premiere.”

His five blocked shots were the most by a Spurs player in a Summer League game since 2018, a sign his NBA education is already paying some dividends.

“Going to get acclimated to the NBA style of play,” he said. “Next time I’m going to do better. I hope to do better every time.

“I’m trying to learn as much as I can as quickly as possible to be ready for the start of the season.”