In the opening scene of the glorious movie Gladiator, Russell Crowe speaks to the legions of Roman soldiers at his command, “Three weeks from now I will be harvesting my crops. Imagine where you will be, and it will be so. Hold the line! Stay with me! If you find yourself alone, riding in green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled, for you are in Elysium, and you’re already dead!”
I imagine Coach Popovich’s pregame speeches are just as inspiring, if not more so —especially before the 5th game of an 82-game season. I also imagine him telling Brett Brown before tip-off of every game, “At my signal, unleash Wembanyama!”
Well, the good guys certainly unleashed a barrage of offense led by Victor Wembanyama’s career-high 38 points along with 10 rebounds and two blocks just 5 games into his very young NBA career, making him the quickest to do it and putting him in same rare company.
Since blocks were tracked in 1973-74, only 3 teenagers have recorded 35+ PTS, 10+ REB, and 2+ BLK in a game.— NBA History (@NBAHistory) November 3, 2023
LeBron James (38/10/3 - 2004)
Kevin Durant (42/13/2 - 2008)
Victor Wembanyama (38/10/2 - 2023) pic.twitter.com/eObv6dgglM
Zach Collins also chipped in 19 points and finally found his three-point stroke, and Devin Vassell also contributed 17 points before bowing out at halftime due to a groin injury.
I think both Wembanyama’s most ardent supporters and his most vocal detractors could not have imagined the big man putting together a dominant performance on both ends of the floor this early in his career and in his rookie season. For comparison, David Robinson played 14 games before he scored 30+ points, while Tim Duncan scored 30+ in his 22nd game. Of course, Robinson and Duncan went on to win rookie of the year honors in their respective inaugural campaigns, and both had hall-of-fame careers.
It’s still early (like 5 games into the season too early) to similarly crown Wembanyama, but there’s not enough restraint on my excitement to prevent my fingers from punching through my keyboards as I’m writing this column.
Ten Spurs took to the floor tonight, and 6 scored in the double digits. Although they let the Suns come back late to tie the game, it was a great team win with everyone sharing the ball and contributing on offense and defense.
Final Stats— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) November 3, 2023
Victor: 38 PTS, 10 REB, 2 AST, 2 BLK
Zach: 19 PTS, 8 REB, 4 AST
Devin: 17 PTS, 2 REB
Jeremy: 14 PTS, 9 AST, 5 REB
Cedi: 13 PTS, 2 REB
Tre: 12 PTS, 10 AST, 5 REB
Keldon: 7 PTS, 7 REB, 6 AST, 2 STL
Doug: 6 PTS
Malaki: 3 PTS, 3 AST
Charles: 3 PTS pic.twitter.com/Uw2SeKKZMD
Get used to seeing fouls on made dunks because Wembanyama will lead the league in these types of and-1s (they should start tracking this type of stat). With his length and savvy footwork, it’ll be difficult for opposing defenders to contest his dunk without fouling.
Devin Vassell early on has shown off his skills at attacking the basket. The Spurs’ swing man got off to a hot start to the year, averaging 19.4 per game and shooting a scorching 54% from the floor and 40% from downtown.
The team will certainly miss his presence on both ends of the floor, but hopefully he returns to form sooner than later.
On this play, Charles Bassey, not to be confused with Charles Minor, looked like he was rolling through the Dunder-Mifflin company retreat volleyball tournament with this two-handed set up for a spike. In reality, he got an and-1 after the basketball bounced fortuitously off the glass and through the net.
After the Texas Rangers captured their first World Series and the Spurs’ win on Thursday night, I think it’s safe to say Arizonians are tired of seeing Texans in their beautiful state. Check out the Grand Canyon and the Meteor Crater if you’ve never had the chance. I mean sure Texas doesn’t have a state tax, but Arizona doesn’t even observe Daylight Saving Time, so who is really better off? Both have In-N-Out Burger though, so we all win.
Before an angry mob of Texans carrying pitchforks dipped in Whataburger ketchup converges outside my house, let me distract you with this clip of WembanDRAMA running the floor and flushing the ball through the hoop on the other end.
The Spurs were particularly en fuego from downtown in this game. The team shot 18-37, good for nearly 50% from beyond the arc. Zach Collins did his part, hitting all 3 of his attempts from deep. After going 0 for 11 to start the year, the big man is starting to find his groove and helping stretch the offense in the process.
Pardon my French, but ¡Dios mío! (in Spanish Kevin Harlan voice) Wembanyama sin consideración para vida de humana!
If you missed the game because you were busy watching The Nice Guys starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, here are the full-game highlights:
Next up, the Spurs fall back home to the friendly confines of Frost Bank Center to take on the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, November 5, 2023.