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NBA

Wembanyama gets to an unwanted 13 with Spurs

The San Antonio team is not having a good time and against the Hawks on Thursday saw a crazy ending in which Trae Young emerged.

The San Antonio team is not having a good time and against the Hawks on Thursday saw a crazy ending in which Trae Young emerged.
The San Antonio team is not having a good time and against the Hawks on Thursday saw a crazy ending in which Trae Young emerged.ADAM DAVISEFE

The situation appears to be less than optimal for Victor Wembanyama. At least, when it comes to justifying the forecasts with which the unicorn entered the NBA. It is true that everything is unfolding as planned: impressive stats, carefully organized playing minutes, just the right amount of ball involvement to balance individual prominence with teamwork, and a mix of plays designed for him alongside those for the rest of the team. Moreover, he finds himself in a franchise theoretically exemplary for guiding the final steps of his development, led by a coach perfectly suited for making the leap to the top table in Gregg Popovich, and a clear path to transform a prospect into a star.

In theory, everything aligns. The pieces fit, the statistics persist, and Wemby is seemingly growing, gradually and steadily. Yet, a lingering question arises: what is going wrong?

Where are the Wembanyama wins with Spurs?

There is a sense, albeit speculative, that the player fails to fully flourish. It remains uncertain whether he is being restrained or if the Spurs have decided to keep it that way. Despite averaging over 19 points, nearly 10 rebounds, and approaching 3 blocks per night, with 8 double-doubles and effective play near the basket, his shooting ability is under scrutiny (around 45% in field goals and below 30% in three-pointers).

Popovich continues to insist on a significant number of outside shots (more than five attempts per game), and he has not yet faced opponents who impose a considerable physical toll. Part of this is attributed to the limited playing time (an average of 30 minutes), sparse post opportunities (where he excels the most), and the management of his role in the Popovich style – a man who seems to have aged less gracefully than others, steering a franchise while doing as he pleases. Such is the nature of legends, occasionally finding themselves in morally questionable conclusions.

Hawks edge out Spurs

In one way or another, the Spurs succumbed to the Hawks (135-137), extending their losing streak to an unprecedented 13 consecutive defeats, unimaginable in the golden years of the dynasty. They haven’t won since 2 November (a complete month without victories), and, disconcertingly, there seems to be little concern. In this latest outing, they came close: leading by 15 points at one stage and still holding a 5-point advantage (117-112) with eight minutes remaining.

They had opportunities until the very end, with Jeremy Sochan, who had a stellar performance, attempting a late-game steal from the Hawks. The referees correctly called an offensive foul, ending the Spurs’ chances. They persisted until the final moments but came away with nothing. Now languishing at the bottom of the Western Conference, far from their former glory.

A Young spark

Trae Young (captured in some photos with Wembanyama for posterity) delivered an exceptional, marvelous performance, capped off by a defensive play at the end: 45 points, 4 rebounds, and 14 assists. He was supported by Dejounte Murray (24+3+2, with 5 steals) and led a team where the entire starting lineup scored in double digits, shooting over 50% in field goals, 40% in three-pointers, and 85% in free throws.

The Hawks, despite fewer rebounds (37 to 47) and assists (24 to 34) than the Spurs, capitalized on their opponents’ 21 turnovers, inflicting damage and securing a significant victory. This win comes as a relief after consecutive losses to the Celtics and Cavaliers, with upcoming challenges against the Bucks in Milwaukee. Their current record stands at 9-9, securing the ninth position in the Eastern Conference. Expectations were not low, but perhaps not exceedingly high either.

At the Spurs, it’s a bit of the usual story, mundane statistics adding to the résumé but not translating into victories. Keldon Johnson contributed 22 points and 11 rebounds, Zach Collins added 11, and an incredible, titanic, and marvelous performance from Sochan with 33 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists (shooting an impressive 12 out of 14 from the field and 3 for 3 from beyond the arc), showcasing one of the best games of his career. Devin Vassell also made a noteworthy contribution off the bench with 25 points.

Wembanyama numbers

As for Wembanyama, he recorded 21 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 4 blocks, shooting 9 out of 16 from the field but struggling from three-point range with 1 out of 5. However, an inexplicable trend persists, particularly in the disappointing final quarter where he managed only 3 points, shooting 1 for 5 overall and missing all 3 attempts from beyond the arc. It remains puzzling that he tends to rely more on three-pointers, his weaker area, when the game tightens.

Stats
26
Dominick Barlow
28
Charles Bassey
22
Malaki Branham
30
Julian Champagnie
23
Zach Collins
4
Devonte' Graham
3
Keldon Johnson
33
Tre Jones
54
Sandro Mamukelashvili
16
Cedi Osman
10
Jeremy Sochan
24
Devin Vassell
1
Victor Wembanyama
14
Blake Wesley
Stats
Min Pts TR OR DR Ast Los Rec Blk S1 S2 S3 RF CF Val
26
Dominick Barlow
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0
28
Charles Bassey
4 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 3 0
22
Malaki Branham
17 2 3 0 3 3 3 0 1 0/0 1/3 0/2 0 1 0
30
Julian Champagnie
20 15 3 1 2 0 1 0 0 0/0 0/0 5/8 0 2 0
23
Zach Collins
33 11 2 0 2 7 3 0 0 4/4 2/3 1/2 0 3 0
4
Devonte' Graham
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0
3
Keldon Johnson
32 22 11 4 7 3 2 1 0 4/5 6/12 2/3 0 2 0
33
Tre Jones
24 3 2 0 2 7 2 0 0 0/1 0/2 1/3 0 1 0
54
Sandro Mamukelashvili
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0
16
Cedi Osman
15 3 1 0 1 2 1 0 0 0/0 0/2 1/5 0 3 0
10
Jeremy Sochan
35 33 8 3 5 6 5 1 0 6/6 9/11 3/3 0 5 0
24
Devin Vassell
27 25 4 0 4 4 2 0 0 5/5 4/4 4/10 0 1 0
1
Victor Wembanyama
29 21 12 2 10 2 2 2 4 2/2 8/11 1/5 0 1 0
14
Blake Wesley
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0
Stats
41
Saddiq Bey
13
Bogdan Bogdanovic
15
Clint Capela
24
Bruno Fernando
2
Trent Forrest
14
AJ Griffin
12
De'Andre Hunter
25
Garrison Mathews
32
Wesley Matthews
8
Patty Mills
5
Dejounte Murray
17
Onyeka Okongwu
11
Trae Young
Stats
Min Pts TR OR DR Ast Los Rec Blk S1 S2 S3 RF CF Val
41
Saddiq Bey
33 13 4 2 2 0 1 3 0 0/0 2/4 3/4 0 3 0
13
Bogdan Bogdanovic
31 14 2 0 2 3 1 2 0 2/2 3/6 2/4 0 4 0
15
Clint Capela
22 12 9 4 5 1 2 0 1 0/0 6/9 0/0 0 4 0
24
Bruno Fernando
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0
2
Trent Forrest
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0
14
AJ Griffin
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0
12
De'Andre Hunter
21 12 6 0 6 2 3 1 0 4/4 1/4 2/4 0 6 0
25
Garrison Mathews
12 3 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 0/0 0/0 1/4 0 1 0
32
Wesley Matthews
14 3 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 0/0 0/0 1/1 0 1 0
8
Patty Mills
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0
5
Dejounte Murray
34 24 3 0 3 2 0 5 0 2/2 8/17 2/4 0 1 0
17
Onyeka Okongwu
28 11 8 2 6 0 1 0 0 4/5 2/3 1/3 0 4 0
11
Trae Young
39 45 4 0 4 14 2 2 0 13/16 13/20 2/9 0 1 0
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