NEW YORK — The San Antonio Spurs made it official on Thursday night, selecting French phenom Victor Wembanyama with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
Wembanyama or “Wemby” as he is known, recently completed his French career with the Metropolitans 92, losing in the EuroLeague title to contenders Monaco. Wembanyama averaged 20.7 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game and was named league MVP.
He is considered to be a generational talent, being compared to Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
“It’s accomplishing something that I’ve been dreaming of my whole life,” Wembanyama said. “Hearing that sentence from Adam Silver, I’ve dreamed of it so much, I gotta cry.”
Wembanyama played all 62 games in France with the Metropolitans 92, leaving a big question on how he can handle an 82-game regular season in the NBA.
San Antonio finished the 2022-2023 season with a 22-60 record, the worst record in the Western Conference, and the third-worst record in the league behind the Houston Rockets and Detroit Pistons.
“It’s a tough league,” Wembanyama told ESPN through tears after he was selected. “I going to try to learn as quick as possible because I want to win that ring.”
Wembanyama will be coached by legendary coach Gregg Popovich, who led the Spurs to 22 consecutive playoff appearances from 1999 to 2019. More recently, the San Antonio has relied on their young core of Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, Malaki Branham, and Jeremy Sochan.
“Because of all the hype, he’ll have a target on his back. So more than O’s and X’s, to begin with, we’ll be interested in setting the framework in an environment where he’s comfortable where he can be Victor,” Popovich said in a news conference.
“He’s not LeBron (James) or Tim (Duncan) or Kobe (Bryant) or anybody else,” he added. “He’s Victor, and that’s who we want him to be.”