Victor Wembanyama’s official NBA debut didn’t go ideally, but it certainly wasn’t bad. Without ever straight up saying the NBA is soft, he has mentioned that the game is more “physical” in France, and he would have to adjust. He was proven correct straight out of the gate as he fought foul trouble all night — often of the ticky-tack variety; he’ll just have to learn what is and isn’t allowed in the NBA (especially for rookies) — but when he was actually given a chance to stay on the court and his teammates were able to get him the ball, he still looked pretty special in their season-opening loss to the Mavericks.
Despite three-point shooting being a weakness coming in, he shot 3-5 from beyond the arc in his first NBA game, including the first two field goals of his career. Then, after being saddled with foul trouble in the middle two and beginning of the fourth quarter, he went on a nine-point burst to help give the Spurs a chance late. These mini-explosions have occurred in nearly every game now, so it might become a signature feature of his (but he’ll also need to work on contributing on a more steady basis throughout the game). After it initially looked like his debut would be a dud, he finished the night with 15 points on 6-9 shooting, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block.
Devin Vassell also continues to look like a star-in-the-making. With a healthy knee and bulked up frame, he was hitting from everywhere except three last night on his way to 23 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. His midrange jumper looked silky smooth, and his ability to get to and create around the rim is there. Wemby will have his bursts, but it looks like Vassell will be the go-to guy when they need points, at least for now.
Five more Spurs scored in double figures on the night. Keldon Johnson bullied his way to a near triple-double with 17 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists to be their leading facilitator of the night, but poor decision-making and tunnel vision led to two costly turnovers late. Tre Jones looked like a Sixth Man of the Year candidate with 16 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds, including a much improved looking three-point stroke. He and Jeremy Sochan each contributed two threes on a combined 4-7 shooting outside on the night, and if both have truly improved in that area, it will help spread out this Spurs offense a lot more.
You can check it all out in the full game highlights.