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Wembanyama Watch: Up-and-Down Stretch for Rookie

Victor Wembanyama and his San Antonio Spurs host theLos Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, after which the 19-year-old Frenchmen will likely get to go to a teammate’s house for his first real dose of American gluttony. When he recovers from that first tryptophan nap and finds room in the fridge for some leftovers, Wembanyama turns his attention to his first matchup with Steph Curry and Co. on Friday in San Francisco.

Taking the Clippers to cover might be just about the best bet NBA offers tonight, as San Antonio can’t do much right and is riding a nine-game losing streak. But there’s plenty of other items to look at as it pertains to Wembanyama, so read on for more on his current situation.

Wembanyama Watch: Up-and-Down Stretch for Rookie
Wembanyama #1 of the San Antonio Spurs-Joshua Gateley/Getty Images/AFP

Roller Coaster Ride

With all the expectations on Wembanyama, it’s important to remember how little he has in the way of experience. That will lead to plenty of ups and downs before one day — maybe in a couple of seasons — he’s putting up 30 and 10 on the regular.

Right now, he’s struggling for consistency as NBA teams utilize the growing amount of tape on the 7-foot-4 star. It’s like when a rookie comes up from the minors and hits .450 with four homers over his first two weeks. Then the books get filled in, pitchers know what to throw and before you know it he’s in a 1-for-23 spiral.

Wembanyama’s last six scoring totals are as follows: 29 … 18 … 8 … 27 … 19 … 9.

There’s actually some nice symmetry there, and judging by the pattern, he’ll go off for about 28 on Wednesday night against the Clippers. However, what’s more notable in that span is the fact that he’s shooting just 40.7% (37.0% in the last five), and that he’s not getting to the line (just eight attempts in that five-game span).

Wembanyama also had a career-low three rebounds Monday vs the Clippers as San Antonio dropped its ninth straight. A bet online in favor of Los Angeles right now won’t yield much, although some of the best NBA prop bets today involve some Clippers over/unders.

Jiving With Jones

It’s hard to find many player pairings on the Spurs that yield positive results. The team is just no good as a whole right now. However, one couple is standing out among the rest and should be paired as much as possible going forward.

In the 159-plus minutes that Wembanyama has played alongside backup point guard Tre Jones, the Spurs are at a plus-12.4 net points per 100 possessions. It’s the only pairing on the team that is in the positive, with others involving Wembanyama yielding some pretty rough results: w/Sochan, -25.4; w/Branham, -24.0; w/McDermott, -19.2; w/Johnson, -14.4; w/Collins, -13.9.

Similarly, the top three five-man lineups in this same category all involve both Wembanyama and Jones. Gregg Popovich surely sees this. Perhaps a shift in the rotation will yield more time together on the court. If it does, consider that as a boost for Wembanyama and something to consider at the sportsbook.

LeBron is Looming

Wembanyama inevitably drew several comparisons to LeBron James, as he was likely the most heralded prospect since LJ came out of Akron 20-plus years ago. The two will meet on the court for the first time real soon as the Lakers host the Spurs for two straight on Dec. 13 and 15.

It’s rather amazing to think that if Wembanyama has a similar career path to James, he’ll be posting triple-doubles, shooting a career high from the floor, putting up 30 every other game and making defenders look foolish in November 2043. It’ll be 138 degrees out, the presidency will be decided on a cage match between Hunter Biden and Donald Trump Jr., and the first of the Swift-Kelce kids will be off to college.

And still, Wembanyama will be dominating. At least he will be IF he maintains what LeBron has maintained all these years. That’s just a nod to King James and has little to do with what Wemby has done thus far.

On that note, though, it’s interesting to find that Wembanyama has a higher scoring average (18.6-17.4) and the exact same field-goal percentage (42.4) that LeBron had through his first 14 games.



Questions Of The Day

Can Victor Wembanyama single-handedly transform the fortunes of the San Antonio Spurs?

The Spurs have a history of taking talented big men and turning themselves into powerhouses, doing so with David Robinson and Tim Duncan. It seems as if Wembanyama will need a lot more around him for a transformation to take place, but it’s possible.

Will Wembanyama make a significant impact on the Spurs' point differential and over/under betting lines?

Not really, at least so far. The Spurs lost by an average of 10.1 points en route to a 22-60 campaign in 2022-23. They’re losing by an average of 13.8 this season and sit at a league-worst 4-10 against the spread, something to keep in mind when making abet on NBA action.

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