LAS VEGAS — Victor Wembanyama’s first, and likely last, summer league is over.
The San Antonio Spurs said Monday that they have seen all they needed from the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft and won’t play him during their remaining games in Las Vegas.
Wembanyama’s final numbers from two games: 36 points, 20 rebounds, 8 blocks, and 3 assists on 41% shooting from the floor. He played about 54 minutes.
The shutdown wasn’t a surprise; the Spurs never planned for Wembanyama to play the entirety of summer league, and now they’ll have a chance to use the minutes he would have gotten to take a look at other players.
“I’m going to sit down with the Spurs to know what the next months are going to be like,” Wembanyama said Sunday night after what became his summer finale. “When to go on vacation, when to start back working out, where I’m going to practice, in San Antonio or somewhere else. I just know I’ve got two to three months — two to three great months — that are coming and they’re going to change my life.”
Shutting him down from games — San Antonio has either three or four games left in Las Vegas — starts what will be a needed break for the 19-year-old from France whose last professional season in his homeland started nearly a year ago. He was in the French playoffs up until a few days before the draft in June, and his schedule has been crazed since.
Put simply, the Spurs believe he needs a chance to rest and reset to get ready for training camp that starts in early October and then an 82-game regular season.
“In the past month, I think basketball wasn’t even 50% of my schedule,” Wembanyama said. “I can’t stand it. I know it’s a special moment in my life, but I’m glad it’s over. Honestly. I just want to hoop. I just want to work out, lift because this is my life. Obviously, every first pick is going to go through this. And it just makes me better for the future.”
It has been a whirlwind few days in Las Vegas for the Spurs. Wembanyama’s debut on Friday night had a circus-like atmosphere with a sold-out crowd and enormous attention; Sunday’s game wasn’t quite the same, but the crowd was still huge. And more big news came between those games on Saturday when Gregg Popovich’s new five-year contract to remain coach and president of the team was announced.
As would be expected, the Popovich signing delighted Wembanyama.
“There’s something great going on, starting,” Wembanyama said. “We kind of knew it was going to happen, but now it’s, let’s get it rolling. We can get started now.”
And everyone from teammates, opponents, and even NBA greats such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jerry West have raved about what they’ve seen from Wembanyama in recent days.
“The difficulty is learning how you can best contribute to a winning effort,” Abdul-Jabbar told him. “That’s what you’ve got to learn how to do with your skill set. You will find out what that is basically in preseason. You’ll find out a lot about that.”
Vegas is a showtown. Wembanyama put on a show, and the Spurs said it was enough. And now his focus shifts to his first real season.
“He’s amazing,” San Antonio guard Blake Wesley said. “He’s an amazing person on and off the court.”