Victor Wembanyama, accompanied by excessive expectations, played his first game in the NBA on Wednesday, as the 19-year-old Frenchman and the first choice in the latest draft can dream of an extraordinary destiny.
His San Antonio Spurs put up a closely contested duel before losing 126-119 to the Dallas Mavericks, with Wimbanyama managing to tally 15 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block in 23 minutes of play.
Limited by a large number of fouls he committed, he woke up his team at the end of the match without being able to prevent his team from losing.
“It was full of emotions, and it would have been perfect to win. Maybe I wanted to do too well, and I didn’t put my energy into the right things. I don’t need to put a lot of energy into defence. I’m learning for the first game,” he declared. French player selected first in the draft “Losing, I hate it, but it’s part of the game. We’re hungry for the next game (Friday vs. Houston), we really want to start our season with as many wins as possible. »
Wembanyama remarkably made the first three-point shot of his career.
“I was happy. It’s big. This basket in itself is nothing special. But I hope that what I do next will make it special. Tonight really marks the beginning. It’s still a dream, and I hope I can maintain that dream feeling. Before the game I was excited, I was studying Videos of my opponents, simple things. I wasn’t nervous. »
Luka Doncic was unsurprisingly the best player in the match thanks to his first hat-trick, recording 33 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. However, his presence was uncertain before the match due to an injury to his left calf. Kyrie Irving added 22 points and Grant Williams added 17 points.
The 24th pick of the 2023 auction, Quebecer Olivier-Maxence Prosper, has not played.
Keep head up
Wembanyama, whose debut was among the most anticipated since LeBron James 20 years ago, had success during the preseason, but he didn’t have as many unpleasant personal issues as he did in his first game of the season. The Mavericks were able to take advantage of it.
The rookie had to leave the court after receiving a fourth personal foul with 8:37 remaining in the third quarter.
“I didn’t want to get discouraged, it was important to keep my head up for my teammates. We learn. After my mistakes, I was just focused on being the best I can be when I get back on the field. »
The Mavericks took their first lead of the game just 37 seconds later, on a slap shot by Derek Lively II.
Wembanyama got back into the game midway through the fourth quarter, scoring seven points to energize the crowd, but Dallas forced two punts in the final minute of play to seal the win.
His traveling companions, young players with great potential, will grow with him, having finished last in the Western Conference in the spring (22 wins in 82 games), far from the former glory of Spurs (5 titles between 1999 and 2014).
Wembanyama is already dreaming of qualifying for the playoffs in April, which would be San Antonio’s first since 2019.
“I am confident in our ability to compete from the beginning of the season with this team. During the preparations, we saw real collective performances,” the young prodigy said after the pre-season.
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