All eyes on Victor Wembanyama at Spurs Media Day

Victor Wembanyama at Spurs Media Day

The overall No. 1 choice Victor Wembanyama is prepared to start his NBA career with the Spurs after a summer of rest and fitness.

Victor Wembanyama, a rookie with the San Antonio Spurs, had members of the media – some of whom had traveled from as far away as France – parading with smartphones and cameras Monday as he strolled through the gym for his first NBA media day.

The French phenom eschewed the blond and purple hairdo for his natural style, meaning it’s time to get down to business on the eve of the young Spurs’ first practice of training camp.

After returning from the NBA 2K24 Summer League in Las Vegas, Wembanyama was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief before the real work of reshaping his body began.

“Since I’ve been in San Antonio, I’ve gained 10-15 pounds,” Wembanyama said. “I’m trying to stop that and not gain too much too fast. We’re on a good path.”

The rookie believes he is now in the best shape of his life as the Spurs look to end a four-year postseason drought.

What’s on his mind? 

Wembanyama was physically and mentally drained after Summer League and took some time off after returning to San Antonio before finally putting in the work “harder, but also smarter” than “any other moment in my life,” he said. The rookie believes the work he’s put in over the past three months “will impact my next few years” because it has created a foundation that I can continue to build on.

“My conditioning and physical condition are much, much better than ever before in my life,” he said. “Everything I do here has a purpose. I’ve learned as much about my body in the last three months as I have in the last five years.”

Wembanyama said this has been accomplished in more ways than one.

“The Spurs know a lot more than any of my teams before because they’ve been able to do some testing more thoroughly. It’s all very technical. The biggest difference is that in Europe, the whole organization, the front office, the coaches, and the staff, are not as committed to pursuing big goals in the long run. Here, everyone works in harmony. I know that’s not the case with every franchise.

Pointing to the Spurs’ five championship banners, he continues, “But here, they know how to win it. They’ve done it before, and they want to do it again. It’s just a wonderful harmony.”

What fans can expect from Wemby:

Here’s what Spurs players have to say about their new 7-foot-3 teammate. 

Devin Vassell: “Let’s just put it this way: I think in every game he’s going to do something where you turn around and say, ‘Huh? It just doesn’t make sense.’ Sometimes, he just makes the hoop look so little. He’ll hit a step-back and you’ll say, ‘Did he really just shoot that?’ And then he makes it.

“Y’all are going to have a great time watching him play this year.”

Jeremy Sochan: “I think he is just a freak of nature. It is not normal to see someone that tall moving like that, be agile, and be able to come out and block a shot or dunk it from some weird place. He has done a bunch of stuff (during summer workouts) that is like, ‘Oh, snap. That’s crazy.’ And then it is going to carry on this season, next season, for as long as he plays.

“He is going to prove to people that he is special. It is exciting for us, for the organization to see. It is going to be a lot of fun.”

Zach Collins: “He’s always been the guy on his teams, and everything is kind of run through him. Obviously, we’re gonna run a lot through him. But we have so many more weapons on this team it’s going to make the game easier for him.

“[Him] just realizing that we all can do this thing together, and how much easier that’s gonna make it on him, I can help him a little bit there for sure. Then, just getting used to the grind.”

Training camp begins Tuesday

San Antonio has been working toward the goal of playing positionless basketball for the past five years, and Wembanyama embodies that aspiration, so don’t get too hung up on where he might play this season at this point.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said San Antonio has “a lot of really cool questions to answer” in training camp, and one of them is what position their star rookie will eventually play. Popovich said he’s eyeing the Frenchman at both the forward and center positions, and that pleases Wembanyama, who said the team can best utilize his tremendous skills “when they’re not putting me in a box.”

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