Spurs confident Victor Wembanyama will breathe new life into franchise

San Antonio Spurs managing partner Peter J. Holt had a clear line of sight in Mark Tatum’s letters. Before the NBA’s assistant commissioner could say the Charlotte Hornets were picking second in the draft, Holt hit the table and began jumping out of his chair. Once Tatum’s words became official, Holt yelled “Woo!” and “Let’s go!” in jubilation

Everything the Spurs had been working toward — entering a rebuilding phase and developing young talent while competing for the No. 1 pick — felt rewarded with a ping-pong ball. San Antonio has won the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes, and this rebuild? Forget about the process. San Antonio is getting the most unique prospect the NBA has ever seen, and the best since LeBron James in 2003. It was the third time the Spurs won the draft lottery, and how about this venture for the 7-year-old Frenchman feet 3? David Robinson in 1987 and Tim Duncan in 1997 marked the other two feats.

“I think I shot my reaction, apologies to Charlotte and Mark (Tatum), then I said sorry, but I thought I was going to pass out I was so excited,” Holt, who kept a small gold key inside. his jacket as a lucky charm, he said after the lottery. “I felt a little bad that I jumped the gun before they called our name, but this is so exciting. The game of basketball is so much fun and the Spurs are full of joy and history and a living legacy that it’s just an honor to be a part of it.”

The Spurs should be filled with joy, because after four years of sub-.500 records and no playoff appearances, along with what will be a seven-year drought without a postseason win when 2024 rolls around, the entire skin of the franchise just changed. .

For Spurs general manager Brian Wright, who was the Spurs’ representative in the lounge before the public announcement, the beginning of the lottery included an unintentional fast. He couldn’t even think about eating, he went more than 24 hours without eating anything.

“I couldn’t eat all day man,” Wright said. “Woke up at 5 in the morning and wished I could have gone to sleep. That didn’t happen, and we hit the ground running. You never know with these things. We got lucky tonight. Then , the numbers are starting to come up. and you see what’s happening. This is an amazing day and we’re very excited. We have amazing people in this organization, from Pop (Gregg Popovich) to RC (Buford) to people who don’t get so much love. I love the city of San Antonio, the community and this game. This is special.”

All Wembanyama has done for Metropolitans 92, France’s LNB Pro A team, is averaging 21.6 points on 47% shooting, 10.5 rebounds and 3.1 blocks in just over 32 minutes per match

“It’s nothing we’ve ever seen in the game of basketball,” one scout told FOX Sports as part of a survey conducted with five talent evaluators from different NBA teams. “There are always changing times in basketball, and right now we’re in this space ball era where it’s about what you can do to space the floor. How do you combat that? With size and skill. Victor Wembanyama is one of them. categories”.

He will immediately become the centerpiece of the franchise, surrounded by a young and rising core of Keldon Johnson (23), Devin Vassell (22), Tre Jones (23), Malaki Branham (20) and Jeremy Sochan (19 ).

The other layer of Spurs winning the lottery? San Antonio has had two French greats in its history with four-time champion Tony Parker (2001-18 with the Spurs) and 2014 champion Boris Diaw (2012-16 with the Spurs) both linked to Wembanyama. Get this: Boris Diaw is the president of LNB Pro A’s Metropolitans 92 and Tony Parker is the majority owner of ASVEL Basket, two of the three teams Wembanyama has played for.

“Well, we probably don’t need a translator,” Wright said when asked about Spurs and their success with players from France. “We’ve had some great French players, and what they’ve meant to basketball and this country, and what Victor could mean to this country and basketball globally is very exciting. Having that connectivity is great for our organization and I think it’s going to be great for him to assimilate and acclimate to what we do and just be a part of our community.”

“Success with international players always goes back to Pop and RC,” added Wright. “Pop, from the time he was playing, always knew there was talent all over the world. His mission was to go find it before a lot of teams realized there were NBA players in those spots.” .

The Spurs made a commitment to come to Chicago on Tuesday night and give themselves a chance to win a generational lottery.

“Years ago, we saw him,” Wright said. “When you see him (Wembanyama), it’s more than just, ‘It would be great to get him.’ “.

Regardless of which team Wembanyama landed with, there is much more to the market than just the player. He has this aura about him and a presence that is only growing, that will take over the city where he plays.

“When you use the term generational talent, that goes beyond basketball skills,” Wright said. “When you talk about generational talent, it’s beyond your ability to make a shot. And as we have studied Víctor, he is very thorough with everything he does.”

Before even taking the stage at the Barclays Center on June 22 to make it official with his organization, all Wemby has it made it to this point? It meant that on Tuesday night, a simple ping pong ball changed everything about the San Antonio Spurs and their future.

John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers sports in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.

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