The Spurs are expected to be very cautious with new franchise player Victor Wembanyama during his rookie season. He won’t be impacted by the league’s new player participation policy, which only applies to recent All-Stars and All-NBA players, which will give San Antonio more flexibility to hold him out of certain games if necessary. However, if it were up to him, Wembanyama would play all full 82-game schedule in 2023/24, as Andrew Lopez of ESPN.com details.
“Every game,” Wembanyama said. “If there’s no excessive risk for my health — of course I can’t predict the future — but I want to play every single game.”
The French phenom will open the season as the Spurs’ starting power forward alongside center Zach Collins, and the team has made developing the chemistry between the two big men a priority this month, notes Kelly Iko of The Athletic. The thinking is that Collins is more equipped to handle the physicality associated with the center position and that having him out there will help reduce the wear and tear on Wembanyama. Still, the 19-year-old is prepared for opponents to test his physicality, Lopez writes.
“Everyone has their strength, and being physical [with me] is something I’ve seen my whole life, basically every time I stepped on a court for the last few years,” Wembanyama said. “It’s not something I’m afraid of. Quickness beats physicality when used correctly. It’s really part of the game. I’m used to it.”
Here’s more from around the Southwest:
- Xavier Tillman is “probably a leader in the clubhouse” to start at center for the Grizzlies with both Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke sidelined, head coach Taylor Jenkins said on Tuesday, per Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. The fourth-year big man started 29 games at center last season and Memphis won 18 of them, though his role figures to look a little different this season, as Cole explains.
- Jeenathan Williams made a positive impression on Rockets head coach Ime Udoka during training camp and the preseason, which helped him secure a promotion from his camp deal to a two-way contract, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required). “He is a pretty natural, fluid scorer,” Udoka said. “He is a guy that played well in the G League last year and had a good stint at the end of the year with Portland. … He had a good summer with us as well. A guy that gives us a burst and we feel can play with many different lineups. And since he has come in, he has been one of the better guys with the second and third unit.”
- Speaking to Sam Yip of HoopsHype, Pelicans guard CJ McCollum discussed his expectations for the upcoming season, his role as the NBPA president, and why he’s encouraged by what he’s seen from Zion Williamson entering the season.