• Coming off successful tanking tactics to attain the No. 1 pick, the Spurs came into this season uplifted by the promise of Victor Wembanyama. Despite the pressure of being regarded as potentially the greatest prospect of all time, Wembanyama more than lived up to the hype by ascending with each passing month. It takes a team to win though, so it’s time for a full dive into the Spurs roster to find the fantasy goodness outside of Wemby.

    How’d It Go?

    The Spurs finished with a 22-60 record and they had a friendly draft lottery, moving up to the No. 4 pick and also getting the No. 8 pick from the Raptors thanks to last season’s Jakob Poeltl trade since it was only top-six protected. That gives them a lot of flexibility to engage in trades or just take two shots to find talent in the top eight of a seemingly unpredictable draft.

    The Spurs finished with the same record from the 2022-23 season despite not doing the same theatrics to tank as they had in that campaign. They didn’t exactly prioritize winning throughout 2023-24 either though, opting to develop Jeremy Sochan as a playmaker and ball-handler in the early stages of the season rather than starting a true PG. They went through various experiments at that position before ultimately settling back to their best playmaker, Tre Jones. That happened a little while after Victor Wembanyama moved from PF to C, relegating Zach Collins to the bench. Wemby was already having outstanding flashes early in the season but sometimes his scoring efficiency was just lacking. He fully took off as a center though.

    Wembanyama dominated on a minutes limit for a while, putting up early-round value in around 24-to-28 MPG. Devin Vassell also began to show better consistency as the more trusted No. 2 option while being given a little more ball-handling duties. Vassell also had a cleaner run of health as injuries limited his consistency early on. The Spurs became a fun watch thanks to that duo, though of course, there were still some bumps along the road as indicated by their inability to put together wins. All in all though, we got a glimpse of a foundation and the fantasy potential of Wembanyama with more talent to come alongside some emerging core pieces.

    Coaching

    Gregg Popovich is in the conversation for the greatest coach of all time. At 75 years old in a different era of basketball to his many successes though, there will naturally be chatter about his best years being past him with suggestions of it being time to call it a day. The players and the Spurs organization don’t seem to feel that way though and Victor Wembanyama himself seemed to speak glowingly of the mindset and commitment that Pop instilled.

    The handling of the Jeremy Sochan “PG experiment” could be looked at in two ways. You could question how fast the Spurs abandoned it since they did indicate it would be a season-long plan. On the other hand, having the awareness to realize that forcing Sochan to develop in an uncomfortable role may have hurt the development of others (and the player himself) could also be commended. Moving Keldon Johnson to the bench also seemed to help the team’s balance as it allowed Devin Vassell to blossom more. The Spurs also were not shy about treating Wembanyama like a No. 1 option and while the growing pains were apparent, his rate of adjustment showed its worth.

    Whatever side of the line you do fall on, Pop’s insight from his experiences should be valuable to this young group even if he ultimately isn’t the one who will lead them later down the line when they are competing. He will be attempting to lay out a strong foundation for whoever has the pressure of following in his gigantic shoes a few years from now. It should be noted that although Pop signed a five-year contract in 2023, it is believed that he could step away from the bench and join the front office in the last couple years of the deal.

    The Players

    Victor Wembanyama
    PF, San Antonio Spurs
    SeasonTeamGPGSMPG FGMFGAFG% FTMFTAFT% 3PTM3PTA3PT% PTSREBAST STLBLKTO
    23-24 SA 71 71 29.7 7.8 16.7 46.5 4.1 5.2 79.6 1.8 5.5 32.5 21.4 10.6 3.9 1.2 3.6 3.7

    ADP: 21.1/25.8 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 5/5 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 6/7 (8/9-cat)

    Despite ADPs in the 20s, Wembanyama began going a little earlier in drafts closer to the beginning of the season after some mostly positive preseason indicators. He started the season very well, though some efficiency issues did initially make it seem like he may not have delivered on the top-25 value many were looking for in drafts. Wemby got better and better the more he saw and adjusted to NBA coverages, and if you were disregarding turnovers he was already a near-first-round producer a month and a half into the season. An ankle injury caused the Spurs to be cautious with him from the end of December through the All-Star Break, with a 24-to-26 minute limit which eventually increased to around 28 and was then removed after the ASB. Despite the restrictions, he was putting up end-of-first-round value during that period as a position change from PF to C helped his production and impact further.

    With the restrictions removed, Wembanyama was a top 3-to-5 player the rest of the way in 9-cat and he ranked No. 2 in 8-cat with one of Luka Doncic or Nikola Jokic staying ahead of him during different periods. He ended the season with averages of 3.6 BPG and 1.2 SPG (almost five combined defensive stats), 10.6 RPG, 21.4 PPG, 3.9 APG and 1.8 3PG. Wembanyama is going to be a legitimate candidate to go No. 1 in drafts next season with such an expansive skill set which will certainly improve over the summer. Getting turnovers under control will be his main issue and his FG% should improve with a better playmaker to facilitate easy looks along with his teammates being more aware of his unique capabilities. In dynasty, he should be the undisputed No. 1, but given the rate of improvement during the season, an offseason to work on his game further will likely cement him as the top player for redraft leagues too.

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Sherman Wood

POP is the Greatest! He’s the most insightful thinker, players coach, fan favorite, team winning, competition driven, long term planner, kind humanizing professional dugnifued human, respected by all if not most the NBA has in the league ever!

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