It finally happened. The San Antonio Spurs started wingspan wonder Victor Wembanyama at center. Additionally, Jeremy Sochan returned to the starting five, but this time not as the primary ballhandler, but as one of four wings, situationally even as a power forward. And he looked much more comfortable finishing plays in the paint than he had been out on the perimeter as point guard. Here’s of two powerful dunks he had in the first quarter:
Despite Wembanyama being a long way away from being a fully fledged five, having the longest guy in the league protect the rim and score from close range is an undeniably good idea. It’s around the rim where both defense and offense are at their most effective – and Wemby is the two-way key to that. A spin move and he’s in dunking distance:
And what works once, is likely to work again. And so it does. Spin round and dunk:
Wemby’s layup range is even more ridiculous. I’ve never before seen anything like it. But what I would love is to see these scoring opportunities for Wemby way more often. There’s just no better way for him to improve his efficiency:
The most impactful type of defense is rim protection. And Wemby has the tools to become the most impactful rim protector to ever play the game. Blocking an offensively skilled starting center? Wemby doesn’t even have to jump – which makes this block appear like some sort of high-altitude steal (poor Vucevic):
gettin' it done on both ends ↔️ pic.twitter.com/t29KIEPKux— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 9, 2023
Different situation, same result: Vucevic pulls out all the stops to score on Wemby, shows excellent footwork in the process. But it just doesn’t matter much to the French Phenom – rejected again.
Another key to the Spurs playing competitive basketball now, as they did last night, and winning basketball in the future, is Devin Vassell. He’s deadly from mid-range, and despite going 1 of 9 from beyond the arc last night, his pure shooting motion and quick release show he’s just as deadly from long-range.
There’s just one thing in the way of Devin becoming a legitimate three-level scorer: He has lacked in the rim pressure department; just being unable to get all the way to the rim. Or can he? All of a sudden, he’s making it all the way to the rim with the ball in his hands, and then he’s putting the ball in the basket. He does it once:
He does it twice:
He actually did it thrice. Pity no one cared to clip and share it. I guess Devin will just have to score like that more often. Let’s hope he can.
Here’s video of Wemby’s big night:
And the full game highlights: