Spurs tanking for projected No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama

Considering reports circulating that Murray did not intend to sign a future extension with San Antonio, per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, and this may have been the best possible outcome for both sides. The main caveat to consider behind all of this is next year’s draft. Next year Victor Wembanyama is available. Who? You may ask.

Wembanyama, if you don’t already know, might be the highest touted European prospect since Luka Doncic. Wembanyama is an 18-year-old French basketball player who’s been playing professional basketball since he was 15. Wembanyama most recently played for ASVEL in the French League LNB Pro A and the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague, the second most competitive league in the world and the top-tier league in Europe.

He signed a two-year contract with Pro A’s Metropolitans 92 on Thursday, June 30.

Victor Wembanyama of LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne in action during the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague match between Real Madrid and LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne at Wizink Center on March 17, 2022 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Victor Wembanyama of LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne in action during the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague match between Real Madrid and LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne at Wizink Center on March 17, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty Images

He’s listed at a daunting 7-foot-3-inches tall, with a 7-foot-9-inch wingspan, but might actually be taller. Wembanyama certainly looks bigger standing next to 7-footer and recent No. 2 overall draft pick Chet Holmgren.


We’re 12 months away from next year’s draft, but it’s almost undisputed that he will be the No. 1 overall pick. Wembanyama shows promising defensive skill and intuition. It’s not often you see someone be able to help the defender in the lane and then also block the layup attempt from the open man. That’s guarding two guys at once.

Offensively the tools are there too. Size and athleticism, his ability to move and handle, all screams modern NBA player. Wembanyama’s bigger than Giannis Antetokounmpo, can shoot over defenders like Kevin Durant, and moves better for his size than Holmgren. He covers ground so quickly it’s actually misleading to watch. It seems like he moves in slow motion because of his length.

Wembanyama’s numbers might seem unimpressive from the Pro A, averaging 9.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. But adjusted to per 36 minutes stats they’re at 18.4 points and 10 rebounds. Keep in mind that’s at 18 years old in an adult professional league. Regardless, he helped ASVEL capture the 2022 Pro A title and won the Pro A Best Young Player Award in 2021 and 2022.

VILLEURBANNE, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 11: Jeremy Evans, #40 of Panathinaikos Opap Athens and Victor Wembanyama, #1 of LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne in action during the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season Round 26 match between LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne and Panathinaikos OPAP Athens at The Astroballe on February 11, 2022 in Villeurbanne, France.  (Photo by Romain Biard/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images)

VILLEURBANNE, FRANCE – FEBRUARY 11: Jeremy Evans, #40 of Panathinaikos Opap Athens and Victor Wembanyama, #1 of LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne in action during the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season Round 26 match between LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne and Panathinaikos OPAP Athens at The Astroballe on February 11, 2022 in Villeurbanne, France. (Photo by Romain Biard/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images)

Romain Biard/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

With the Murray trade, this is the Spurs finally pulling the hard reset, something they haven’t done since before Tim Duncan and David Robinson. Yes, the Spurs are more or less tanking. But they aren’t tanking for just anyone, they’re tanking for Victor Wembanyama.

Is all of this hype really warranted? Well, there’s already a Spurs connection here. The owner of ASVEL is Tony Parker. Yes, that Tony Parker. I’m guessing Parker and his own front office can confirm if the hype around him is real.

Going forward San Antonio is tanking for their own pick but now has more working for them. The Murray trade gives them future draft capital to either trade themselves or add more pieces. Next year they get their own pick, plus the Charlotte Hornets’ first round pick (protected), via the trade with Atlanta. They also have two more future picks (2025, 2027) and a swap also from Atlanta (2026), but the kicker on those picks is they aren’t protected. Meaning no matter where they land, they belong to San Antonio, a rarity in today’s NBA. This gives the Spurs flexibility to either make more deals or add pieces later on.

VILLEURBANNE, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 11: Victor Wembanyama, #1 of LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne and Jeremy Evans, #40 of Panathinaikos Opap Athens in action during the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season Round 26 match between LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne and Panathinaikos OPAP Athens at The Astroballe on February 11, 2022 in Villeurbanne, France.  (Photo by Romain Biard/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images)

VILLEURBANNE, FRANCE – FEBRUARY 11: Victor Wembanyama, #1 of LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne and Jeremy Evans, #40 of Panathinaikos Opap Athens in action during the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season Round 26 match between LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne and Panathinaikos OPAP Athens at The Astroballe on February 11, 2022 in Villeurbanne, France. (Photo by Romain Biard/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images)

Romain Biard/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

These trades always look bad on the day of, because you’re giving up real players for potential ones. The thinking to keep in mind though is if it lands you the prospect, it’s all worth it. This group was fine, but landing a generational talent is better. It’s a situation that rhymes very closely with the 1997 draft, a draft that had another prospect that was undisputedly going number one: Tim Duncan.

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