Takeaway #3: The Spurs struggle to get Wembanyama the ball.
With all of the scouting done on Wembanyama over the last couple of seasons, all of his strengths and weaknesses were known before he was drafted. However, one thing that was overlooked was how he would get the ball in the NBA.
Finding a 7’4 big man shouldn’t be all that difficult, but with the lack of post players in the NBA, many players often struggle with throwing entry passes or lobs. In fact, many of the players on the Spurs also fall into that category, and it’s not uncommon for teammates to fail to get him the ball in the paint or miss him on easy alley-oops. As a result, Wembanyama often settles for threes, where he is hitting just 29.7% of his shots.
Some of those issues fall on Wembanyama. He can easily be moved from his spot when calling for the ball in the post, forcing him to face up and shoot over his defender after getting the ball several feet away from where he initially started. He can hit those shots but contested mid-range jumpers are low-efficiency shots. So how can the Spurs fix the issue?
Wembanyama’s getting stronger is a given and a work in progress, as are his teammates learning to throw pinpoint passes. Thus far, backup point guard Tre Jones is clearly the best player at getting him the ball and has assisted on 14 of his baskets, or 1.6 assists per game, despite playing only about half of his minutes with Wemby. Center Zach Collins is also a skilled passer but the Spurs will have to be more creative in getting him the ball.
Running him off off-ball screens and forcing an opposing big man to chase him away from the rim is a promising option. Popovich has also used cross screens, where Collins screens Wembanyama’s defender when in the post. That allows him to dart across the paint, catch, and finish before the Collins defender can react and switch. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to help get Wembanyama the ball in the right spots.