In one of the most highly-anticipated games of the preseason, the Golden State Warriors lost to the San Antonio Spurs 122-117. Of course, preseason games are rarely about the final score. They are about a few highlight moments. Preseason basketball is about the few flashes of greatness that every fanbase can latch onto.
But Spurs fans have a lot more to dream on than most. Despite coming off an abysmal season, Spurs fans aren’t dreaming about prospects in the same ilk as Ike Diogu or Anthony Randolph. No, they have a player who might be able to combine the talents of Wilt Chamberlain and Kevin Durant in one single player.
They have Victor Wembanyama.
This is Golden State of Mind, so I should focus on the Warriors. But no one leaving Chase Center on Friday night will be thinking about Moses Moody’s best game of the preseason (12 points on 5-for-9 shooting from the field with 6 rebounds in less than 20 minutes) more than Wembanyama’s incredible collection of highlights.
Besides, the Splash Brothers were both abysmal offensively, combining to shoot an uncharacteristic 20.8% from the field. Wembanyama’s ability to challenge shots all over the court clearly played a role, but the Dubs were also on cruise control. They pulled off a crazy comeback on Wednesday night against the Kings and clearly came into play feeling tuned up for the regular season.
The Warriors' defense remained lackluster, a defining trend throughout the preseason, which is to be expected from a team that is missing its best defensive player (Draymond Green) with an injury and prioritized outside shooting and offensive versatility in their acquisitions this offseason. Nevertheless, Wembanyama led the Spurs to a 44-point first quarter that they never looked back from.
Wembanyama showcased his unique combination of length, skill, and athleticism on several plays. One of his most impressive offensively came when he knocked down a mid-range jump shot despite having to readjust his shot in mid-air following a tight contest. He also generated several transition buckets for San Antonio with blocked shots on the perimeter.
Wembanyama finished the game with 19 points on 8-for-19 shooting from the field, 4 assists, 5 blocks, and 1 turnover. Three of his blocks came against Andrew Wiggins, who may be the first of many NBA players who will be haunted by Wembanyama in their nightmares for the foreseeable future.
His first block against Wiggins came on a catch-and-shoot three from the left wing, which he was able to block despite still having his left foot in the pain when Wiggins caught the pass.
A few minutes later, Wembanyama was switched onto Wiggins on the perimeter. Wiggins treated the rookie first overall pick like a traditional big man, who should be a mismatch he could take off the dribble. But Wembanyama showed that he is not someone any opponent will be able to take advantage of in that situation. He is simply too long and athletic for a smaller player, even one as tall and athletic as Wiggins, to generate space to get a shot off.
Jonathan Kuminga did have one of the Warriors' most impressive plays against Wembanyama in the game, making a high-arcing mid-range jump shot over his outstretched arms. Kuminga failed to score 20 points in the game for the first time this preseason, but he was highly efficient in his 20 minutes of action and recorded 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists.