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Victor Wembanyama sits out for Spurs' season finale

The No. 1 overall pick has completed a historic rookie campaign with San Antonio.

Victor Wembanyama helped San Antonio stun Denver earlier this week.

(AP) — Victor Wembanyama’s rookie season with the San Antonio Spurs is over.

The Spurs said that the 7-foot-4 French phenom will not play in Sunday’s season finale against the Detroit Pistons, ending a year that will almost certainly see him take home Rookie of the Year honors. The Spurs won the game easily, 123-95, as Detroit rested Cade Cunningham, the top pick in the 2021 draft.

The Spurs (22-60) matched last season’s record, which was the third worst in franchise history but enabled them to draft Wembanyama.

His final numbers: 21.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and an NBA-best 3.6 blocked shots per game. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich suggested after Friday’s win over Denver that Wembanyama might be held out for the finale, and the team confirmed that decision Saturday. The official reason cited was right ankle injury management.

“What’s really been interesting is when you watch him from the beginning of the year to now is how much better he’s gotten,” Denver coach Michael Malone said of Wembanyama earlier this month. “I mean, it’s noticeable. He came in as a really talented player, but when you watch him now … Pop’s done a hell of a job building him up in one season.”

Along with Wembanyama, the Spurs were without Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson, Jeremy Sochan, Malaki Branham, Cedi Osman and Dominik Barlow. The Spurs lost veteran big man Zach Collins two minutes into the second half with a right shoulder injury.

Wembanyama had 34 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and five 3-pointers in what was his last game as a rookie, a 121-120 win over defending NBA champion Denver on Friday night. The Spurs rallied from 23 points down to win the game — their biggest comeback win of the season, and Wembanyama gave the ball a celebratory spike as time expired.

“As a growing team, a young team, it’s big for us,” Wembanyama said after the game. “We’re going to need these kind of wins in the future. We’re going to need any win. But big-time wins against big teams, first seeds, we’re going to need those in the future.”

He became just the fourth player, and first rookie, to finish a season with at least 1,500 points, 250 assists and 250 blocked shots. The others: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it five times, Hakeem Olajuwon did it twice and former Spurs great David Robinson did it twice. Nobody had done it since 1993-94, when Olajuwon and Robinson both had such a season.

Wembanyama won’t play again for the Spurs until next season, but fans will presumably see him play long before that. He’s expected to be part of the French roster for the Paris Olympics this summer.

And he’s said many times that he feels the Spurs are on the right path toward becoming a contender again.

“We’ve got the potential to be great,” Wembanyama said. “The fact that we have the chance to live this, with the fans, I can only hope it’s as incredible as it can be.”