Apr 17, 2024 - Sports

Wembanyama's first Spurs season leaves fans hopeful

Victor Wembanyama celebrates in his Spurs jersey.

Victor Wembanyama celebrates after his last rookie game. Photo: Ronald Cortes via Getty Images

Despite a 22-60 season, one of the worst in the team's history, Spurs fans remain encouraged, buoyed by the promise of Victor Wembanyama.

Why it matters: San Antonio has a palpable excitement when the Spurs are doing well. A successful team and star player can boost any city's morale and economy — and elevate its status as a destination for sports fans.

Driving the news: The 20-year-old Wembanyama finished his rookie season on Friday with an exciting 121-120 win over reigning champions, the Denver Nuggets.

By the numbers: He averaged 21.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.6 blocks per game this season.

  • According to The Athletic's Player Efficiency Rating, which measures an athlete's offensive performance, Wemby has a 23.1.
  • He's up there with all-time greats Wilt Chamberlain (28.2), Spurs legend David Robinson (26.3) and Michael Jordan (25.8).
  • This rookie season is dotted with so many "firsts" and stunning stats, that the popular podcast "No Dunks" had enough content to make a minute-long wrap-up of them, and Air Alamo contributor Ty Jager made a bracket of Wemby's highlights.

What they're saying: Wemby reflected on his first season at a Friday press conference. He recognized the 60 losses but highlighted the fans' confidence that grew as the team finally started to click, winning 7 of the last 11 games.

  • "I know it's for the long term and I trust my teammates 100% and I trust the project," he said.

Fun fact: A lot of Wemby's quirks came out as Spurs fans became better acquainted with the star.

Flashback: When the Spurs won the NBA lottery last May, San Antonio celebrated like it was 1999. That excitement persisted despite a tough season.

  • Most reactions centered on his blocks against fellow rookie Chet Holmgren and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
  • San Antonio Sports Star host Jason Minnix tells Axios that Wemby's season had many "'wow' moments like we used to get from Manu Ginobili."

Between the lines: It's not just Spurs fans who have been excited by Wemby's season. Other NBA players are too.

  • Respected ESPN writer Brian Windhorst recently predicted that big-name players will want to join Wemby, which could transform the once small-market team into a top destination for star talent.

What's next: Minnix says he's looking forward to seeing what offseason moves the Spurs make to support Wemby.

  • "I know Pop has said the organization won't skip steps, but this does not need to be a slow rebuild. Victor is ready to take over the league," he says.

What we're watching: Wemby is in the running for two end-of-season awards: Defensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year.

  • The announcements should come any day now.

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