SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio Spurs forward Victor Wembanyama experienced a first on Wednesday before the start of a season expected to be full of them.
“It came later than I expected,” he said. “But finally, I’m glad [Spurs coach Gregg Popovich] yelled at me.”
Lost in all the new verbiage and information overload flooding the club’s new sprawling practice facility, Wembanyama participated in his second training camp practice. He found solace in San Antonio’s refusal to place limits on how it might play him in 2023-24.
“There really are no limitations. On a lot of set plays, on a lot of plays, it really depends on where you are. I can be the point guard just as I can be the wing. It doesn’t matter.”
The rookie acknowledged the difficulty of processing so much being thrown his way by a staff stressing now that winning ranks as highly this season as development did just a year ago.
“What is coming fast is all the information, the new set plays, the principles,” Wembanyama said. “It’s a lot, a lot of stuff I have never seen before and don’t know. It’s hard. You have to be focused when you are on the court because if you lose attention one second, you’re screwed for the next 15 seconds.”
The French phenom quickly learned how a lapse in concentration results in the entire team taking a trip to the line to run full-court sprints. Wembanyama divulged he hasn’t yet been the culprit of any extra Spurs conditioning.
He’s already receiving plenty of it, mentally, as a result of the near position-less style of play the Spurs want to implement with the 19-year-old serving as the centerpiece.
Victor Wembanyama likes the idea of playing multiples roles on the floor. Said he can be Tre Jones at times handling the ball, Devin Vassell on the wing or Zach Collins in the post.
— Michael C. Wright (@mikecwright) October 4, 2023
Popovich mentioned at Media Day on Monday that one of the “really cool questions we get to answer” at training camp is how to deploy the No. 1 overall pick. The roster already teems with versatility in 2022 No. 9 overall pick Jeremy Sochan, 2020 first-rounder Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson, the 29th pick of the 2019 NBA Draft.
Wembanyama finds himself already taking on some of their responsibilities and others over the span of just two practice sessions.
“It just goes without saying that I’m playing sometimes the same role as [point guard] Tre Jones, sometimes the same as [center] Zach Collins, sometimes the same as [guard-forward] Devin Vassell,” he said.
Wembanyama mentioned the Spurs held back from “too much experimentation” with lineups over the first two days of camp, pointing out that now really isn’t the time for that. But veteran forward Doug McDermott provided a cryptic preview of what’s to come.
San Antonio opens the preseason on Monday at Oklahoma City (8 ET, NBA TV).
“It will be different,” McDermott said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that are interchangeable. With Jeremy [Sochan], he has an unorthodox game where he can play a point-forward [role]. You’ve got Keldon [Johnson] and Devin [Vassell] who are both scorers, and then Zach [Collins] who can really stretch the floor as a five-man. It’s going to be really cool to see. We’re working on everyone being in different spots. You’ll never know where [we’re] going to be on the floor.”
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