Posted on: July 12, 2023, 07:40h.
Last updated on: July 12, 2023, 09:32h.
Victor Wembanyama played only two games for the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA 2K24 Summer League in Las Vegas before the Spurs shut him down for the rest of the summer to avoid a potential injury.
Wembanyama, the #1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, is the betting favorite to win next season’s NBA Rookie of the Year at -130 odds.
Wembanyama didn’t appear in the Spurs’ game against the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night. The Spurs pulled the plug on Wembanyama before he had a chance to get injured.
Two of the top four picks suffered injuries in their NBA 2K24 Summer League debut. Scoot Henderson, the #2 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, exited Friday night’s game with a right shoulder injury. Amen Thompson, the #4 pick in the draft by the Houston Rockets, sprained his left ankle in the same game as Henderson.
Both the Trail Blazers and Rockets determined that their top draft picks won’t appear in any more summer league games.
Zion Williamson, the #1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, sustained a sprained knee injury while playing for the New Orleans Pelicans during the 2019 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. Williamson has since struggled with injuries during his short career, which is why many teams are cautious when it comes to their top draft picks suiting up in Las Vegas.
Short Vegas Residency for Wembanyama
It’s been a wild trip in Las Vegas for the 19-year-old Wembanyama. A brief incident between his security detail and pop star Britney Spears thrust the #1 draft pick into the tabloid zeitgeist and he became internet meme fodder.
The distracting incident made the French-born Wembanyama wary of America’s celebrity-obsessed, TMZ-crazed populous and the relentless 24/7 sports news cycle. Wembanyama mentioned he needed a break from the media after the unfortunate interlude with Spears.
In the past month, basketball wasn’t even 50% of my schedule,” said Wembanyama. “I can’t stand it. I know it’s a special moment in my life, but I’m glad it’s over. I just wanna hoop and workout.”
Wembanyama struggled in his summer league debut on Friday against the Charlotte Hornets. He scored nine points and missed 11 shots, including five 3-pointers. Against the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday, Wembanyama looked more like the #1 pick with 27 points and 12 rebounds in his second game.
“There’s something great going on, starting,” said Wembanyama. “We kind of knew it was going to happen, but now let’s get it rolling.”
Wembanyama logged 54 minutes in two games with the Spurs. He scored 36 points, pulled down 20 rebounds, and blocked eight shots. He shot 41% from the floor and 30% from 3-point range.
The Spurs determined two games were enough exposure for Wembanyama. The organization chose not to roll the dice on the future of their franchise by risking injuries in subsequent summer league games.
“All along, two games was the plan,” said Mike Finger from the San Antonio Express-News. “The Spurs wanted him to get a taste of the NBA, and he got it.”
Spurs Extend Pops for 5 More Years
Head coach Gregg Popovich signed a five-year contract extension worth $80 million to remain the head coach of the Spurs. The new contract ended any speculation that the 74-year-old Popovich would retire any time soon.
In 2022, Popovich passed Don Nelson for most wins in NBA history. He has now coached 2,127 games, all with the Spurs, and has a 1366-761 career record.
The Spurs winning the NBA Draft Lottery this year was one of the best possible scenarios for Wembanyama. Several prospects, including David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Kawhi Leonard, all thrived under Popovich’s mentorship.
The Spurs committed to making sure Wembanyama has a future Hall of Fame coach at his side during his ascent in the NBA by locking up Popovich through the 2027-28 season.
Popovich is +2200 odds to win the 2024 NBA Coach of the Year.
The Spurs were 22-60 last season as the worst team in the Western Conference. Only the Detroit Pistons (17-65) lost more games than the Spurs last season.
The Spurs have a win total of 30.5 over/under for next season.
The Spurs are +20000 odds to win the 2023-24 NBA championship, according to DraftKings. They’re a long shot, but the eight teams at the bottom of the futures board have longer odds. The Spurs last won a championship in 2014, which marked their fifth title under Popovich since 1999.
The Spurs are +10000 odds to win the Western Conference next season. They secured back-to-back conference titles in 2013 and 2014.
The Spurs are a long shot at +4000 odds to win the Southwest Division, which they last achieved in 2017.
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