July 16, 2024

NBA

Some say the 7-foot-4 Frenchman is a taller model of Kevin Durant.

Phoenix Suns ahead Kevin Durant fouls San Antonio Spurs middle Victor Wembanyama (1) throughout the second half of an NBA basketball recreation Thursday, Nov 2, 2023, in Phoenix. (AP Photograph/Rick Scuteri) Rick Scuteri/AP Photograph

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PHOENIX (AP) — Victor Wembanyama strolled by the hallways at Footprint Middle after the perfect recreation of his brief NBA profession when he handed 13-time All-Star Kevin Durant, stopping for a fast handshake and fast hug.

Some say the 7-foot-4 Frenchman is a taller model of Durant.

Durant’s first impression is that the budding San Antonio Spurs star is likely to be even higher.

“His enthusiasm for the sport — you may inform that by the TV and taking part in towards him,” Durant stated. ”He’s his personal participant, personal individual. He’s going to create his personal lane and is far completely different than anybody else who has performed.”

In simply his fifth NBA recreation, the 19-year-old Wembanyama confirmed why he was one of many most-hyped prospects in years, scoring 38 factors and grabbing 10 rebounds in a standout efficiency throughout a 132-121 victory over Durant and the Phoenix Suns on Thursday evening.

Wembanyama produced a number of highlight-reel performs within the recreation, together with a hovering dunk whereas working the ground throughout the second quarter. However it was his poise within the fourth quarter that was the true eye-opener.

The Spurs constructed a 27-point lead within the first half and nonetheless had a 14-point lead getting into the fourth quarter earlier than the Suns clawed again to tie it 116 with about 4 minutes left. That’s when Wembanyama took over, with the precocious rookie making a 3-pointer, three free throws, a dunk and an 18-foot jumper to push the Spurs on a 12-0 run that sealed the win.

Wembanyama shot 15 of 26 from the sphere and added two assists, two blocks and a steal to assist the Spurs full a two-game sweep in Phoenix. He stated the sport additionally taught him an necessary lesson.

“I’d say it’s {that a} 20-point lead is nothing,” Wembanyama stated. “It really works each methods. It’s additionally one thing we’ve seen in FIBA after we play crew U.S. or scout U.S. You would be up 15 and in a blink you’ll be down one and also you don’t know what occurred as a result of they ran the fastbreak like loopy and received some defensive stops.

“So yeah, within the NBA it’s the identical.”

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich stated Wembanyama’s power is that he’s unselfish however also can take over a recreation when wanted.

“He’s a multi-faceted participant — he’ll go to the open man,” Popovich stated. “He’s received confidence in himself. He made some performs that had been unbelievable. That mixture is fairly good.”

He definitely has a number of followers on the Suns. Each three-time All-Star Devin Booker and Durant praised the rookie.

“He’s an unbelivable expertise,” Booker stated. “Everybody is aware of that. We’re simply attempting to determine what he’s as a result of we’ve by no means appear him earlier than. We received him early within the season. Hopefully, subsequent time we play him we will make some changes to make it harder. However he has a bonus being 7-4 and with the ability to shoot over all people.”

That benefit isn’t going away anytime quickly.

And if Thursday evening was any indication, Wembanyama is each bit the rising NBA star that many anticipated.

“I don’t see anybody else like him on this recreation,” Durant stated. “We’re each skinny and I do know he watched me rising up, however he’s his personal participant.”