As long as he’s physically able to, Victor Wembanyama wants to play.
The new San Antonio Spurs rookie — who is the most anticipated rookie in the league since LeBron James — hasn’t played too much with the organization just yet. He appeared in two Summer League games, and then skipped one of their preseason games.
Coming off of a busy offseason, where he made it to the French LNB Pro A Finals before arriving in the United States, that strategy makes sense.
But now that the regular season is starting up, Wembanyama wants to play.
“Every game. If there’s no excessive risk for my health, of course I can’t predict the future, but I want to play every single game,” Wembanyama said Tuesday, via ESPN’s Andrew Lopez.
Wembanyama and the Spurs will open their season Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks. The matchup, though it’s just their first game of the season, will have plenty of eyes on it.
Everyone wants to see Wembanyama play, and he’s already feeling the difference between now and his other two NBA “debuts.”
“This one feels unreal even more,” he said. “I thought maybe a month ago that some preseason games would prepare me for that moment, and it would be just another game. But it feels totally different. The fact it’s an actual NBA regular-season game, it’s different.”
Luka Dončić: ‘Everyone knows Wemby’
Like the rest of the league, the Mavericks are well aware of the challenges that are going to come with guarding Wembanyama.
So in practice this week, assistant coach God Shammgod threw on a pair of fake arm pads to simulate Wembanyama’s 7-foot-4 height and 8-foot wingspan. While it looked a bit ridiculous, it seemed to be effective.
It’s official: Mavs are prepping for the Spurs, specifically 7-4 rookie Victor Wembanyama, with God Shammgod playing the role of Wemby. “Wemby! Wemby” he hollered while going out to defend Irving with his artificial Wemby length. pic.twitter.com/cKmgnP0M1n
— Brad Townsend (@townbrad) October 21, 2023
“Everyone knows Wemby, right? Some of the things I saw are crazy, what he does on the court,” Mavericks star Luka Dončić said, via NBA journalist Landon Buford.
“Plus he’s 7-foot-4, the things he does for that length is unbelievable. The way he moves, the way he handles the ball, shoots the ball, and obviously the blocking. I’ve been watching, and obviously he’s an amazing player.”