For the third time in franchise history, the San Antonio Spurs will pick first overall in the NBA draft. They are widely expected to take 7’4 French center Victor Wembanyama with the top pick next month, and he could be the next in a long line of great big men, including David Robinson, Tim Duncan, and LaMarcus Aldridge.
Despite his size, Wembanyama is much closer to Kevin Durant than Robinson, Duncan, and Aldridge, making him a seemingly perfect fit for today’s NBA. His size, length, and mobility, in combination with his perimeter skills, could make him an immediate superstar. In fact, according to ESPN’s Andre Snellings, Wembanyama is projected to put up absolutely monster numbers in his rookie season.
How good could Wembanyama be for the Spurs next season?
Although there is often a learning curve for rookies, Snellings believes that he can make an immediate impact. Wembanyama is currently expected to average around 21.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.1 blocks, and 2.9 assists per game. If those projections indeed pan out, he could become the first rookie since Duncan back in 1997–98 to average at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game.
It could also transform the Spurs from the second-worst team in the NBA to a potential play-in team in a matter of a season. That will depend on how many games he plays, however. With those numbers, he’d be a lock for rookie of the year and possibly even make the All-Star team, but missing, say, 10 games could be enough to keep them from making the playoffs.
Knowing the Spurs, they will likely take a cautious approach with Wembanyama during his rookie season as he works to adjust to the NBA and add muscle. That could blunt some of his impact, but it may be for the best in the long term since virtually no players his size have ever gone on to have long careers. If he is the first and he puts up the numbers that are expected from him, he could very well live up to the hype.
All in all, Wembanyama is a virtual lock to be taken first overall by the Spurs in next year’s draft. And if ESPN’s projections for his rookie season come to fruition, San Antonio could soon be back to their winning ways.