How Victor Wembanyama fared in his summer league debut

The 2023 No. 1 overall pick played against the Charlotte Hornets on Friday

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And Victor Wembanyama has officially made his debut in NBA-level action.

The 2023 top overall pick suited up on Friday as the San Antonio Spurs and Charlotte Hornets met for summer league action in Las Vegas, and, understandably, it transpired in front of a sold-out crowd.

But it wasn't the electric stuff-the-stat-sheet performance fans might've hoped to see. Instead, he was expectedly raw on the offensive end but flaunted immense defensive skills that are more transferrable at the early stages of NBA life.

The Spurs won 76-68, with Wembanyama totaling nine points, eight rebounds, five blocks and three assists. He shot 2-for-13 overall (15.4%), 1-for-6 from deep (16.7%) and 4-for-4 from the charity stripe. He also recorded four fouls and three turnovers as he logged 27 minutes of action.

It wasn't an appealing performance statistically, but that doesn't mean Spurs fans should fret.

His first basket came in the opening minutes of the first quarter, where he optimized his height and converted an off-balance bank shot for the and-1 opportunity.

His other attempts throughout the game were missed bunnies and multiple 3-point attempts that went blank, including one airball. But he was only a high 20-point shooter from deep with the Metropolitans 92 in France, so the likelihood of him making it rain in his debut was extremely low.

After starting 0-for-5 from deep, he made his sixth attempt while getting fouled and converted the free throw. His perfect clip from the foul line is also an indicator his long-range shooting could gradually enhance.

On his 2-pointers, backing down defenders with more strength to create space from the post will be an area to look at. He went up against No. 2 overall pick Brandon Miller quite often throughout the night, and Wembanyama failed to hold his own on this occasion as the Hornets youngster stripped him.

Those moves won't cut it against stronger big men, so he'll need to broaden his arsenal and eventually bulk up to absorb contact better.

But other than his shooting, his initiating of the offense can become quite unstoppable the more polished he becomes. How many 7-foot-5 athletes can move with this fluidity going downhill off the bounce, then find a teammate for a clean look?

If you look at recent NBA champions, there was a common theme that followed: tall playmakers. Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo and Denver Nuggets' Nikola Jokic are the modern pioneers of this, fusing their abilities as defensive anchors and offensive initiators to lead their teams to glory as the No. 1 option.

That's why Wembanyama was such a coveted prospect in this cycle. He's taller than both, yet possesses traits that people of his height aren't usually blessed with.

He fared much better defensively, though, which is the easier side of the floor to make an instant impact, especially for someone of his profile. He swallowed five shots on the stat sheet, but his presence alone made it difficult for Charlotte to comfortably get into the paint and succeed.

That and Wembanyama also looked comfortable coming out to the perimeter and guarding smaller players effectively. Hoarding rebounds at that size came naturally, too.

His only major defensive blip was being posterized by Kai Jones on an alley-oop attempt.

The Wembanyama experiment is going to be a process that takes time to season rather than witnessing immediate success, but his potential was clearly on display in what resulted in a solid night for the Spurs franchise. Just imagine when those shots start falling and his confidence amplifies.

San Antonio next plays Scoot Henderson and the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET, where Wembanyama will seek to improve on his offensive showing.

Learn about French big man Victor Wembanyama, who is expected to be the first overall pick in the NBA Draft.
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