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Week in Review: It’s not the preseason anymore

The Spurs showed flashes of their future potential in the opening week of the season but also reminded the world that things don’t change overnight.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Clippers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Week in Review: a Monday feature that looks back at the week that was for the San Antonio Spurs, takes a look at the week ahead, and more. Enjoy!

Week 0: N/A

Week 1: 1-2 (1-2 overall, 12th in West) — 119-126 L vs. Dallas Mavericks; 126-122 W vs. Houston Rockets; 83-123 L @ Los Angeles Clippers

A new era of Spurs basketball has begun. It was very palpable across the first week of the regular season as Victor Wembanyama made his official NBA debut, but it was also a reminder that this is still the youngest team in the NBA, and even with one of the most hyped prosects of all time on board and a slew of promising talent, changes won’t happen overnight. After running roughshod through the preseason, the Spurs were reminded that the regular season is a whole different animal.

The Spurs got out to a strong start against the Luka Doncic and the Mavericks on opening night, but Wemby struggled through foul trouble all night, and the experience and star power of the Mavs eventually took over. If there was one major takeaway, it was that Wemby has the clutch gene — something the Spurs have lacked since at least DeMar DeRozan — as he hit some big shots on the fourth quarter to keep the Spurs in the game.

Against the Rockets, the Spurs came out slow, possibly due to the adrenaline rush of opening night being gone and being a bit guilty of looking ahead after they had already played that team twice in the preseason. Fourth Quarter Wemby showed up again to help force overtime and the win, and while it was good to see the Spurs can come from behind and win close games after severely struggling with comebacks last season, it was also a reminder that playing hard for all 48 is still a work in progress.

That weakness was confirmed in their first road game of the season against a Clippers team that has the talent to win it all when everyone is available. The Spurs were complete no-show from tip-off, coming out timid, sloppy, slow, and unable to complete pass. The game was over at halftime, and while there is plenty to be learned, this could be a case where Gregg Popovich says to just burn the film, act like it never happened, and start anew this week.

Power Rankings

John Schuhmann, — 28 (last week: 25)

OffRtg: 101.9 (24) DefRtg: 115.6 (25) NetRtg: -13.7 (28) Pace: 103.6 (8)

Victor Wembanyama continues to amaze, and he made some big plays on both ends of the floor as the Spurs got their first win of the season (Friday vs. Houston). But while a strong preseason had the Spurs looking like a decent team, a 40-point loss to the Clippers is a signal that it’s time to temper expectations.

Three takeaways

A 7-foot-4 guy can make a difference on defense. The Spurs have allowed 23 fewer points per 100 possessions with Wembanyama on the floor (102.8) than they have with him off the floor (125.8).

A point guard can make a difference on offense. The Spurs have scored 41.2 more points per 100 possessions with Tre Jones on the floor (120.6) than they have with him off the floor (79.4).

Zach Collins shot just 1-for-15 from 3-point range, but did some nice work in the post against multiple defenders against Dallas, also getting a big post-up score (with a quick spin move) in the Spurs’ overtime win over the Rockets.

We’ll watch Wembanyama every night to see what he’ll do on any given possession. But we might need to be patient in regard to wins and losses.

Get your popcorn ready, because Wembanyama and Kevin Durant could be matched up quite a bit as the Spurs play two games in Phoenix this week. And it will be fascinating to see how Durant tries to score if he’s got the rookie one-on-one.

Colin Ward-Henninger, CBS Sports — 25 (last season: 28)

In case there was any doubt, it’s certain now: Victor Wembanyama is the real deal. Even with Sunday’s 11-point dud in a blowout loss to the Clippers, the 7-foot-4 prodigy is averaging 16 points, seven rebounds and two blocks per game to start his career. The efficiency may take a while to get there, but the skill set is on display every single night. Devin Vassell has led the way for San Antonio with 21 points per game on 55% shooting.

Brett Siegel, Clutch Points — 26 (last week: 27)

Victor Wembanyama has arrived. In a playoff-like atmosphere for his debut against the Dallas Mavericks, Wemby ended up in foul trouble, which led to a somewhat disappointing first game. However, The French phenom bounced back in his second game with 21 points and 12 rebounds in the Spurs’ overtime victory against the Rockets. While the 40-point loss to the Clippers was ugly, it’s no surprise to see growing pains against elite competition.

The talent on this roster extends past Wembanyama, as Devin Vassell continues to grow into a primary scoring weapon and Keldon Johnson is now the veteran leader on the wing in his fifth season. The Spurs will have their share of struggles this season as they incorporate Wemby, but we’ve seen what he can do when he’s rolling.

Coming up: Tues. 10/31 @ Phoenix Suns (2-1); Thurs. 11/2 @ Phoenix Suns (2-1); Sun. 11/5 vs. Toronto Raptors (1-2)

Prediction: 1-2 — It’s hard to get excited about the Spurs facing another star-studded team on the road after that Clippers debacle, but Devin Booker has been day-to-day with a foot injury, and Bradley Beal has been out with a back problem, although they still have Kevin Durant. Back home against the Raptors will be the Spurs’ best bet for a win this week, but they could steal one in Phoenix depending on if they show up, who’s available for the Suns, and the fact that it’s just hard to sweep a miniseries no matter who’s playing.