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Wemby Watch: Victor Wembanyama's playmaking leads Spurs to consecutive victories


Victor Wembanyama recorded the 2nd-fastest triple-double in NBA history in the Spurs’ victory over the Pistons on Wednesday.

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Stay up to date on No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama during his rookie campaign with the San Antonio Spurs. A new Wemby Watch drops every Sunday during the season. Here’s what we saw this week:

First MLK Day matchup ✊

Wembanyama will take part in an NBA MLK Day tradition that has featured games every year on this holiday, since 1986 when it was first observed, with the only omission coming during the 1998-99 season, which didn’t start until Feb. 5 after the holiday had passed. 

Each year, the league honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by conducting a variety of activities both on and off the court to promote unity, togetherness and equality.

Wembanyama plays his first MLK Day game as part of a nationally televised doubleheader against the Atlanta Hawks (3:30 ET, TNT). But be sure to tune into the broadcast an hour earlier at 2:30 p.m. ET, as TNT hosts an expanded hour-long pregame show ahead of tip. 

Monday’s pregame coverage will include a roundtable conversation from the King Center in Atlanta discussing the legacy of Dr. King with U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock, rapper and activist Killer Mike (who will also perform at halftime of the game), Atlanta Dream co-owner and vice president Renee Montgomery and NBA legend Isiah Thomas. The conversation will also delve into the ongoing civil rights movement in America, and the intersection of sports and culture.

1-man highlight reel 🤯

In two games this week (Wembanyama sat out of Saturday’s 122-116 loss to the Bulls due to the Spurs holding him out of back-to-back sets), the French phenom scored a combined 42 points with 23 rebounds and 11 assists, doing so in superb fashion. From notching his first-triple double one night to unleashing three-straight dunks on another, the rookie continues to surge as we approach the midway mark of the season. 

Here’s all that and more:

Check out Victor Wembanyama's top plays with the Spurs from Week 12.

One stat to know 📊

Wembanyama needed just 21 minutes to generate his first career triple-double Wednesday in a 130-108 victory over the Detroit Pistons. The win snapped a five-game skid for the Spurs.

“Doing it in a win is everything, of course,” the 20-year-old said.

Whipping eye-popping passes and making plays all over the floor, Wembanyama logged 16 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in the win. It marked the second-fastest triple-double in NBA history behind Russell Westbrook, who in 2014, dropped a triple-double in a win over Philadelphia in just 20 minutes.

“We’re asking him to do a lot, and he’s ready for it,” Spurs guard Devin Vassell said.

Rookie reflection 💭

Earlier this month, Wembanyama and Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered a back-and-forth classic with the former pointing out in the aftermath that “every game is a statement from now on.” 

The No. 1 overall pick hasn’t backed down from those words, and reiterated his intentions Friday after running off 26 points and 11 rebounds over just 20 minutes against Charlotte.

“Of course,” Wembanyama said, when asked if he’s consciously trying to make a statement now in every outing. “I’ve been trying to. Every time I step on a court, I’ve got my goals in mind. Every time I dunk the ball, I’ve got goals in mind. I’ve just got that energy inside me that’s going to push me to win, and I did mean [that statement] literally. I’m not talking to nothing.”

The goals he mentioned are simple.

“The most important one is winning a championship,” the 20-year-old said. “It starts with those efforts today.”

The Wemby effect 📈

The French phenom continues to live up to the hype, delivering record-setting engagement on NBA social media platforms. Here are some of the highlights:

His fastbreak dunk vs. Boston resulted in the NBA’s most viewed social video of all-time, driving a record-setting 163 million views across all @NBA social platforms. Wembanyama is now the second-most viewed player (645 million) @NBA social, now rivaling LeBron James (819 million) for driving the most views across all social assets. In France, four of the top 10 highest-viewed games featured the San Antonio Spurs.

On the court 🏀

San Antonio captured consecutive victories for the first time since November on Friday with a 135-99 win over the Charlotte Hornets. The result represented progress for the young Spurs in the win-loss category. But it goes deeper.

The club experimented for 25 games with 6-foot-8 forward Jeremy Sochan at the point guard position before shifting to Tre Jones at that spot for the last five games. The move appears to have played a role in speeding up the team’s acclimation to the rookie phenom.

Wembanyama played the first 19 games of the season at power forward but spent the last 14 contests at center, where he’s shined in all facets, especially on offense as a facilitator and a scorer.

“We’ve changed around the way we play, and I think we’ve adapted well to this new lineup,” Wembanyama said. “I think putting me at the five gave me the opportunity to make my teammates make plays, and to use me more as a facilitator. This is something that’s worked pretty well lately, and also defensively. It’s allowed me to help my teammates way more.” 

Since the switch to the 5 spot on Dec. 21, Wembanyama is averaging 20.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 3.6 blocks. Playing on a minutes restriction so far in January, he’s averaged 22.6 points on 50.6% from the field with 9.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists.

“Playing-wise, he’s become much more adept at absorbing the physicality,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “Now he understands what he’s got to do to hold his position to get the referee to make a call. The last part is just starting to figure out his teammates, how he can help them, or where he needs to be on the court based on who is on the court with him.”

All-Star praise 🌟 

Once again, Wembanyama lands among the top 10 vote-getters in the second fan returns of NBA All-Star Voting presented by AT&T, receiving 426,419 fan votes.

In the news 🗞

Despite averaging a little more than 23 minutes through five games in January as the club errs on the side of caution, the Spurs rookie reclaimed his top spot in colleague Steve Aschburner’s weekly Rookie Ladder.

Spurs fan art 🎨

Each week, the team asks Spurs fans to submit art as part of a weekly contest. Check out this week’s winning submission from a local San Antonio artist, highlighting the No. 1 pick. 

H1M. Congrats to this week’s Fan Art Fryday winner, Justin (IG/artbyju5tin) 🤩

Keep sending in y’all’s artwork and tag us using #spursfanart for a chance to be featured and win a @Whataburger prize pack! #ad

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 12, 2024

* * *

Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for E-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on X.

Michaela Gilmer is a producer for

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Warner Bros. Discovery.

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