Victor Wembanyama Shines After Slow Start in NBA Summer League

Posted on: July 10, 2023, 02:46h. 

Last updated on: July 11, 2023, 01:13h.

After struggling in his NBA 2K24 Summer League debut in Las Vegas, Victor Wembanyama scored 27 points on Sunday in his second game with the San Antonio Spurs.

Victor Wembanyama
San Antonio Spurs rookie center Victor Wembanyama dunks over forward Justin Minaya from the Portland Trail Blazers during an NBA 2K24 Summer League Game at Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. (Image: Getty)

The French teenager must live up to lofty expectations as the #1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. He also got a crash course on what it’s like to be a sports celebrity in America. Wembanyama had yet to even suit up for his first NBA 2K24 Summer League game before he became tabloid fodder last week during a run-in with pop star Britney Spears in Sin City.

The circus-like distraction with Spears could have contributed to a not-so-impressive debut against the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night. However, Wembanyama bounced back with a much better all-around performance against the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night.

Wembanyama is the betting favorite to win the 2023-24 NBA Rookie of the Year at -130 odds, according to DraftKings’ NBA awards market.

Ice-Cold Wembanyama Scores 9 Points in Debut

The Spurs played the Hornets in their NBA 2K24 Summer League debut on Friday night. The game was the hottest show in Las Vegas, and extra tickets fetched $200 on the secondary market. A sold-out crowd was on hand at Thomas and Mack Center to witness Wembanyama for the first time.

Special moment,” Wembanyama told reporters about his first game. “Really special to wear that jersey for a first time. It’s really an honor.”

A nervous Wembanyama looked lost at times on defense in the opening quarter, especially in transition. He struggled to find his shot on offense with a 2-for-13 overall night from the floor, including 1-for-6 from 3-point range. He tossed up a couple of airballs from beyond the arc when he rushed a couple of possessions in the fourth quarter.

Wembanyama finished his summer league debut with nine points, eight rebounds, five blocked shots, and three assists.

“All in all, I think he did a good job,” said Spurs summer coach Matt Nielsen. “You can see his basketball IQ is elite.”

The Spurs edged out the Hornets 76-68 during an ugly game in which both teams looked awful on offense.

Wembanyama Drops 27 Points in Second Game

On Sunday, Wembanyama bounced back with a stronger performance in his second summer league game. The Trail Blazers defeated the Spurs, 85-80, but once again, all eyes were on Wembanyama.

I wish we could have won the game,” Wembanyama said. “I could have done more to help my team win the game. We got to keep learning. We haven’t been playing our best for like three quarters. Then in the fourth quarter, we were really dominating. It shows the personality of the team.”

Wembanyama tallied 27 points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks. He looked much better on offense by shooting 9-for-14 from the floor and 2-for-4 from 3-point range.

Wembanyama played with more intensity on defense in his second game. He already demonstrated his defensive prowess with eight blocked shots in his first two games. In addition to three blocked shots on Sunday, he also altered countless others. He would have recorded more blocks if the Trail Blazers didn’t purposely avoid him in the paint.

On Monday, rumors surfaced that Wembanyama might sit out the remainder of the summer league. If that’s the case, it’s because the Spurs don’t want to risk an injury to their top prospect.

Scoot Henderson, Amen Thompson Sidelined

A couple of incoming lottery picks caught an unlucky break in Las Vegas when both suffered injuries in the same game on Friday night. The Houston Rockets edged out the Portland Trail Blazers, 100-99, but both teams lost their top draft picks.

Trail Blazers guard Scoot Henderson, the #2 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft and the top guard prospect in his rookie class, sustained a right shoulder injury in the third quarter of his NBA 2K24 Summer League debut. Henderson didn’t return to the game, but had tallied 15 points, six assists, and five rebounds prior to his premature exit.

Scoot was great,” said Trail Blazers summer league coach Jonah Herscu. “When he’s in an attack mindset and getting in the paint, it’s really good. And point guard is the first line of defense defensively, so I thought his pressure on Amen Thompson was really good, picking him up near half court, in the back court. He played with good thrust tonight.”

The Trail Blazers will shut down Henderson for the remainder of the summer. Henderson is currently +400 odds to win the NBA Rookie of the Year, according to DraftKings.

The Rockets selected forward Amen Thompson with the #4 pick in the draft. Thompson stuffed the stat sheet with 16 points, five assists, four rebounds, four blocks, and three steals in 28 minutes of action.

Thompson rolled his left ankle in the fourth quarter, which ended his summer league debut. An MRI revealed a Grade 2 ankle sprain. The Rockets will also shut down Thompson for the remainder of the summer. Thompson is +2500 odds to win the Rookie of the Year.