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Wembanyama Watch: Quiet Week for Spurs Rookie, Bettors

Victor Wembanyama and the San Antonio Spurs are a long way from being included in any NBA championship predictions, but we like taking stock of their situation each week. Below is a look at what’s gone on with the 7-4 rookie over a relatively quiet stretch of the NBA schedule.

First Injury Concerns

There will be more. The rigors of the NBA schedule, coupled with bigger bodies and more travel, is going to take a toll on Victor Wembanyama more than anything he encountered in France.

Wembanyama Watch: Quiet Week for Spurs Rookie, Bettors
Victor Wembanyama #1 of the San Antonio Spurs- Stephen Maturen/Getty Images/AFP

He finally was inactive last Friday against New Orleans due to a hip issue. The Spurs took another one on the chin with their phenom on the sidelines, falling to the New Orleans Pelicans 121-106 on the second night of a back-to-back.

The night off was well-timed by the Spurs. They had a four-day break after that game in New Orleans, which gave Wembanyama a full five days off between games. In fact, he probably wasn’t all that banged up. It was the second night of a back-to-back for a guy who had played every game so far and likely just needed a breather.

If you see Wembanyama on the injury report going forward, check in on Charles Bassey’s status as well. He posted eight points and 11 rebounds off the bench at New Orleans and has piled up some numbers on other nights when Wembanyama’s minutes are down. That could be a factor when betting at the sportsbook.

Another Matchup With Rudy

Wembanyama is starting to see more and more opponents a second time. There was that double dip in Phoenix earlier in the season and also two straight against the Los Angeles Clippers last month.

And on Wednesday, the Spurs visited Minnesota for their second matchup with the Timberwolves. That gave Wembanyama another crack at fellow Frenchman Rudy Gobert, who sang the younger one’s praises after their first encounter in November.

Wembanyama struggled from the field (4-for-13, 0-for-2 from the arc) on Wednesday but did finish with his ninth double-double, tops among rookies (Chet Holmgren has seven). In two matchups with Gobert, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Wembanyama is 3-for-9 (2-for-4 on 3’s) when being marked by the veteran.

Gobert mostly had his way on Wednesday night, finishing 7-for-8. But he’s only 5-for-11 when guarded by Wembanyama through their first two matchups and the rookie has a 3-0 lead in blocked shots (when guarding one another).

As for those blocks, Wembanyama is up to 50, two more than Holmgren for the rookie lead and third in the NBA overall. He had one on Naz Reid the other night that got plenty of attention.

Wembanyama also drew some matchups with Karl-Anthony Towns. It’s notable that in two games against the Spurs and parts of 14 possessions being guarded by Wembanyama, Towns has managed to take one solitary shot. Minnesota has been forced to go to other options.

You Get a Win, and You Get a Win…

The Spurs got a jump on their holiday shopping, it seems. They’ve bought victories for everyone in a very giving stretch, losing 15 consecutive games since a victory at Phoenix on Nov. 2. One more defeat (which would be Friday night at home against Chicago), ties the Spurs’ franchise record, set just last season. San Antonio is getting 2½ points on opening lines for NBA, so it figures to be a tight one.

For some perspective on how this is hitting Wembanyama, his team in France last season lost a total of 17 games. Now, their seasons are shorter (they were 27-17), but this is a very heavy dose of losing compared to his recent past. It’s uncertain if that will have any impact on Wembanyama, and in turn on your NBA picks, but it’s worth monitoring his demeanor and postgame answers if the Ls continue to pile up.

If the Spurs don’t beat the Bulls, that streak could stretch well into the 20s. Their next game is at Houston, which is 9-1 at home, and then comes two straight against the surging Los Angeles Lakers, a home date with the Pelicans and a visit to Milwaukee to start a three-game trip.

When will it end? If not tonight, then we are circling Dec. 26 at home against Utah.


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