So the Spurs have reeked pretty bad this season, I don’t know why but for some reason I had them shockingly being within play-in range this season just because Gregg Poppovich was coaching them but they’ve been a crap-shoot all season long. So bad from afar the only 3 players I see worth bringing back next season are Jeremy Sochan,Keldon Johnson,and just maybe Malaki Branham who the Spurs selected 20th overall in the 2022 NBA Draft; and has been a pleasant surprise being thrust into the starting lineup by Gregg Poppovich who’s tried every rotation possible this season in search of a lineup which could actually quick consistently, yet the Spurs have failed to develop any sort of identity this season. Most would probably start to label Spurs head coach Gregg Poppovich as overrated being that they’ve seen the shackles that have been taken away from former Spur DeMar DeRozan who was practically marginalized while playing under the long-tenured savant; not to mention Lamarcus Aldridge who also didn’t enjoy the same free rein he had in Portland where he was arguably the best power-forward in the game and scoring 25+ every night like it was a walk in the park. I say all that to say this, sure DeMar and Lamarcus were somewhat limited in San Antonio but in the grand scheme of things neither was ever going to get the San Antonio Spurs to where Kawhi Leonard would’ve took them had he never bailed due to loss of trust in the organization.
Which brings me to incoming sensation Victor Wembanyama whom everyone is wondering which NBA franchise’s fortunes will he turn around this summer? With James Wiseman now in Detroit I am beginning to believe that the Pistons might pivot on going for a center this coming draft as they already possess two they are looking to integrate into their program in obviously James Wiseman and Jalen Duren who’s shown promise this season. I could definitely see him on the Rockets as well as concerns still exist regarding just how high of a ceiling young big Alperen Sengun actually possesses; but in all you could sort of envision Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun being the main pillars in Houston for many years to come despite their inconsistency so far early on in their respective careers. The Spurs on the other hand don’t have much of a foundation to build on, I get everyone’s hyped up about Jeremy Sochan and his 1 handed free-throws which are reminiscent of former NBA legend Dennis Rodman who was also a former Spur in the 90’s but he’s not going to be the savior in San Antonio. The kid can scrap a ton, he reminds me of Jerome Williams formerly known as ‘The Junkyard Dog”; someone who brought heart,spirit,and hustle to the Toronto Raptors during the Vince Carter era in the early 2000’s but he can’t shoulder a franchise.
Keldon Johnson? He’s shown me enough to convince me he could be the second best player on the Spurs once they are back to their contending ways but he also won’t be the guy to take that mantle which has been hanging in thin air since Kawhi took a one-way exit out of San Antonio. It’s only perfect timing for Victor Wembanyama to take over the throne in San Antonio, it’s just the way the NBA has always worked. It certainly won’t be the first time the Spurs will be looking to draft a potential hall-of-fame big, when they drafted David Robinson and Tim Duncan those picks were no-brainers much like drafting Victor Wembanyama will be in the 2023 NBA Draft this summer. The Spurs always find a way to get back to the top and they’ll do just that going forward into next season assuming they draft the 7’2″ mammoth coming all the way from France. The question is can Victor Wembanyama usher the San Antonio Spurs into a new era of basketball where they’ll be perennial contenders for close to 2 decades the same way Tim Duncan did? I believe he can but not for as long as Timmy did just because Victor’s durability is already a concern and it’s hard to envision an organization being able to sustain that sort of success consistently year after year; and retooling and retooling some more the same way the Spurs did for Tim Duncan for over 15-16 years.
Victor Wembanyama is certainly a franchise-level player and that is exactly what the Spurs lack at the moment, someone who can represent their franchise. It’s only right for Gregg Poppovich to give it one last run with the San Antonio Spurs before riding off into the sunset, closing the chapter on what has been a legendary coaching career in the NBA. Quite frankly despite his coaching credentials being put into question due to his limited success without Tim Duncan, there is no denying Gregg Poppovich is arguably the best coach the NBA has ever seen. We can’t give him the full blame for how things unfolded with Kawhi Leonard but who’s to say he wouldn’t have coached Kawhi Leonard to at least 1 more championship had he never elected to leave San Antonio? I wouldn’t have put it past him because at the end of the day no matter how great of a coach you are, you won’t be winning any championships without a generational player and that’s exactly what Kawhi Leonard was and currently still is as he looks to leave his mark in Los Angeles with the Clippers. Gregg Poppovich deserves to season up a prospect the caliber of a Victor Wembanyama before calling it a career, I couldn’t think of a better man for the job actually. That is no disrespect to head coaches Stephen Silas or Dwane Casey who could end up coaching the kid next season, but Victor needs mentoring an area where Poppovich really sets himself apart from the rest.
We all know Victor has every move in the book offensively, the kid is so dynamic offensively he is going to be giving opposing teams 20+ points every night with ease and it will only increase as the seasons go on; in what I believe will be a good 13-14 year playing career in the NBA for the overseas basketball phenom. We don’t talk enough about his shot-blocking prowess though and that’s why I feel it will be crucial for Victor to be under the tutelage of Pop because giving him a fully-extended leash early on in his career likely won’t do him any favors. Not that he’ll be delusional enough to think getting up 20-30 shots every night and going for 40-50 will result in winning under any head coach not named Gregg Poppovich but Pop will surely show him how to win ball games on both ends of the floor the same way he coached Tim Duncan to do so in his entire stay in San Antonio. Tim Duncan was able to dominate a game as a scorer,shot-blocker,play-maker,and defender in his prime. As he got older he focused less and less on scoring handing over the reins to Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard transitioning into a super-role player much like Warriors forward Draymmond Green. So to conclude can and will Victor Wembanyama pick up where Tim Duncan left off? Certainly, Victor’s name could one day hang in the rafters with former Spurs legends George Gervin,David Robinson,and Tim Duncan. But to ask him to one day surpass Tim Duncan as a Spur would be like asking LeBron James to surpass Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson as Lakers? Just not going to happen, too much time and too much history.