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Zach Collins is Looking Forward to Playing with Victor Wembanyama

The Spurs Center Joined The Ringer’s Tate Frazier for a fun and candid talk about meeting his new teammate, advice for young draftees, and his experience in Portland with Damian Lillard

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Sacramento Kings
Collins hopes to give San Antonio some more nasty this season in protecting the paint along with the new draft pick
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Spurs big man Zach Collins joined The Ringer’s Tate Frazier Tuesday in Las Vegas for a brief, yet illuminating talk about his new teammate Victor Wembanyama. Collins’ interview was bookended by talks Frazier had with fellow Ringer contributors Wosny Lambre and Kevin O’Connor.

In the opening dozen minutes, Frazier and Lambre covered the recent drama encircling a former pop star (and their legion of stans) and Wembanyama, along with a sobering look at modern celebrity status - with Frazier throwing in the zinger “If you think Britney’s crazy, meet her fans.”

On the other hand, O’Connor and Frazier recapped player movement and the winners and losers of 2023 free agency so far.

Highlights from the Collins portion of the interview (13:20 - 29:15):

  • Collins, in describing his 2017 Summer League foray, “It was a kind of rough game for me. I missed a lot of shots, had some turnovers, just didn’t feel comfortable out there.” (sounding very familiar to the events that transpired this week)
  • On concerns about Wembanyama’s weight, “it’s a balance between putting on weight and getting stronger in general... I definitely came in pretty skinny - I came in at like at 220 (lb) my rookie year. Now I’m between 240 and 250 all the time.”
  • On the Spurs organization’s involvement in Las Vegas: “Summer league’s kinda chaotic. There’s guys fighting for jobs, but at the same time, there’s guys that have a roster spot that are just trying to get more reps and trying to get more familiar with the system. In Wemby’s case, it’s something... it’s the summer league part of it... Now it’s adjusting to what the Spurs do and how we play AND it’s adjusting to the NBA game in general for him. It’s completely different.”
  • Collins reached out to Wemby on draft night - saying “I reached out to him when he got drafted - just to congratulate him (to which Frazier quipped “Good teammate! Zach Collins!)... I know how I felt when I got drafted. It was a little bit of a relief... To tell him how excited I am to play with him - he’s going to help his so much!
  • Collins, after meeting Wemby for the first time, joked “I told my friends ‘I know what it’s like when you guys dap me up now - give me a hug’. That man is huge! He is tall as hell! I’m not used to hugging somebody and like they’re on top of me - felt like a little kid. He’s just massive, just super tall, but he was cool.”
  • Coach Popovich brought up by Frazier as “he was dressed like Adam Sandler... wandering around the casino by himself and you forget sometimes ‘that’s one of the greatest coaches ever,’ to which Collins responded “It’s like a pinch me moment every day. Every day we get to talk and have more dialogue even just outside of basketball... He just teaches everything about life... I couldn’t have asked for a better place at this stage of my career to keep on learning.”

There were a handful of additional nuggets in the Collins’ interview that are well worth the exploration. In the self-imposed absence after his two-game stint at the Summer League, I hope you enjoy one of the numerous upcoming deep-dives on Victor Wembanyama in anticipation of a very busy season of Spurs basketball!