We are a mere five days from the beginning of training camp, and with the drafting of rookie phenom Victor Wembanyama, Spurs fans are buzzing in anticipation of a new era. That anticipation stretches beyond fans as well, and you needn’t look any further than ESPN relocating one of its writers to San Antonio for the season. Speaking of ESPN, they recently polled 15 “scouts, coaches and executives from across the NBA” for their annual preseason survey, and unsurprisingly, Wemby got quite a few votes and mentions in various categories.
First was who will be the best player in the NBA in five years, where he came in tied at 3rd with Nikola Jokic with two votes, behind Luka Doncic (six votes) and Anthony Edwards (three votes). If that seems low, there was a caveat that can seen in the next question that would explain why he didn’t get as many votes in that category as some may think.
When asked what level Wemby’s game will be at in five years, the results were ten votes for “All-Star”, three for “MVP”, and two for “All-NBA”. (Presumably All-NBA means generally a top 15 player, not quite top five but better than All-Star bench warmer. To me, this part could have been left out since it spans the other two categories, but moving on.) Here is what the respondents had to say about this one:
Where will Wembanyama’s game be entering the 2028-29 season, when he’ll still be just 24 years old?
While the most popular answer was Wembanyama will “only” be at an All-Star level at that point, many voters stressed that he would all but certainly be in the MVP conversation seven or eight years into his NBA career.
“His body will need time, and it’ll take time to adjust to the NBA’s physicality,” an East executive said. “His peak will be a little after [five years].”
Others were curious about how Wembanyama handles the spotlight.
“It’ll be harder than expected,” a West executive said. “He has to live up to expectations in a way we haven’t seen before.
“But if it all clicks, and he’s 80 percent of what people think? He’ll be unlike any other.”
So that answers why he’s not generally expected to be the best player in the league in five years: most believe he’ll just need a little more time, but he will eventually get there.
The survey also asked who will be the best player from the 2023-24 class in five years other than Wemby, because “he’s one of the most-hyped prospects to ever hit the NBA, would be considered the top player from this class down the road,” so they wanted to talk about other players (understandable). Scoot Henderson blew away the Thompson twins with 11 votes of 15 votes, but notably lacking any votes is second overall pick Brandon Miller.
Finally, the Spurs themselves also got some love, coming in first with four votes for having the best offseason, obviously thanks to some ping-pong ball luck that made all the previous questions even relevant. It has been a long, hot summer but also one of the best from a Spurs standpoint in years. They got the franchise player they wanted, and they will now “officially” be coached by a Hall of Famer. It’s nearly impossible to come up with anything that could have gone better, so bring on the new season.