Despite Losing, Wembanyama Happy To Be With Spurs

Even though Victor Wembanyama hasn’t transformed the Spurs into an instant contender, he’s still happy that he wound up in San Antonio, writes Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News. Wembanyama was thrilled when the Spurs won the draft lottery last May, and he stressed his love for the organization on Saturday at his first All-Star Weekend appearance.

“This is really the best place for me,” he told reporters. “I said that over and over. I couldn’t dream of being in a better place.”

In his first NBA season, Wembanyama has lived up to the hype that made him the most anticipated draft prospect in 20 years. He’s the clear favorite for Rookie of the Year honors, averaging 20.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and a league-high 3.2 blocks per game, and he regularly produces highlight plays that seem impossible for almost anyone else.

The only real disappointment is the Spurs’ 11-44 record, which has them at the bottom of the Western Conference for the second straight year. But Wembanyama said that hasn’t affected his enthusiasm for the team or his belief in its future.

“Being a Spur, you have to have standards,” he said. “The main thing is the Spurs get good players. But what matters most is to be a good person. This is why (former players) are still around the team, helping the team. These are values I like.”

Wembanyama figures to eventually become a regular in the All-Star Game, but this weekend saw him participate in two other events. His Rising Stars team lost to a team of G League players Friday night, and his Team First Picks squad finished last in all three portions of Saturday’s Skills Challenge.

He plans to return next year and indicated that he may try the dunk contest or the three-point competition.

Wembanyama was a topic of discussion among some of the league’s more established players at Saturday’s media day, Orsborn adds. Giannis Antetokounmpo said, “As long as Victor is healthy, the league is his,” and Kevin Durant added, “It’s just insane how dominant he’s going to be as he gets more comfortable in the game.”

Asked about the rest of the season, Wembanyama focused on team goals, including trying to exceed the 22 wins the Spurs got last year. While he’s flattered by the attention from the league’s top stars, he said he won’t let the comments affect him.

“Of course, I appreciated it, especially from guys I’ve looked up to for years since my childhood,” Wembanyama said. “But I don’t let — coming from anybody, it could be my family, my agents, my favorite players — these (compliments) define how I feel about my career and my progression. I appreciate it. It’s very nice, but I’m keeping my head light.”

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