The 2023 NBA Draft marks a new era for the San Antonio Spurs. For the longest time, San Antonio was considered as one of the best teams in the NBA. However, after years of floundering in mediocrity, Gregg Popovich and co. decided to officially blow up the roster. Their rebuilding season eventually netted them the first overall pick in the highly-touted 2023 draft.
Now, the Spurs have made their selections from the 2023 NBA Draft class. Out of the many moves the team made during this night, which one was the best? It's a fairly easy question to answer, but it's still worth talking about.
Spurs' best move of 2023 NBA Draft: Taking Victor Wembanyama
The NBA Draft process are typically filled with drama and tension leading up to the draft day. Which player will go first overall? Will a team trade up to get their guy at number one? In most years, there's at least some level of talks like this before the draft proper.
Not this year, though. From the moment the Spurs landed the first overall pick, everyone knew that they were taking Victor Wembanyama. The French prospect has taken the world by storm, and San Antonio was one of the many teams enamored by his potential. Wembanyama was part of the reason why Popovich was willing to let San Antonio go into a rebuild in the first place.
There was no talk about a potential trade. No talk of San Antonio considering either Scoot Henderson or Brandon Miller. The Spurs were locked on to Wembanyama throughout the entire process. Fans were hoping for some chaos during the draft day. Alas, there was no chaos to be had: San Antonio took Wemby with the first pick, and it's absolutely the right decision.
Miller and Henderson are talented players in the own right, both worthy of the first overall pick in any other year. They are athletic scoring wings: the perfect prototype to be successful in the NBA. However, Wembanyama has so much more potential to be something that the NBA has never seen before. This “unknown” is the reason the Spurs went through a rebuild last season.
At 7'5 with an 8ft (!!!) wingspan, Victor Wembanyama is built like the perfect rim protector today. Think Rudy Gobert, but on steroids. However, we've seen plenty of prospects like this in the past. What separates the Spurs rookie from the others, though, is his “other” abilties.
Despite being built like a souped-up Inspector Go Go Gadget, Wembanyama possesses the skills of an elite guard on offense. He's able to dribble the ball effortlessly, and he can create his own shot when needed. In a way, he's similar to Kevin Durant: a lanky forward with elite ball-handling and shotmaking abilities. However, the Spurs rookie is also 7'5, making his jump shot even more unguardable than KD's.
Of course, on defense, Wembanyama leverages his long limbs and height to deter opponents at the rim. Like his fellow Frenchman, the Spurs rookie is a ferocious shot-blocker. Unlike Gobert, though, Wemby is a lot more agile, and can recover against guards quicker. His long frame also gives him some leeway on defense, as he can be beat and still recover in time.
No prospect is perfect, and Wembanyama has his flaws. His lanky frame has some experts concerned about his durability. That same frame could also pose problems on the court: while he's tall, the Spurs rookie could be pushed around by more physical defenders. There's also the question of whether his shooting would translate to the NBA (his shooting can be inconsistent at times).
If there's a team that can address these concerns, though, it's the Spurs. Gregg Popovich is one of the best coaches in NBA history, and he's done a wonderful job developing some top prospects. Remember, this is the same guy that turned top prospects like David Robinson and Tim Duncan into Hall of Famers. Yes, both centers are already talented, but Popovich was able to turn them into Hall of Famers. The Spurs are hoping that the same thing happens with Wembanyama.
The NBA Draft is basically a big gamble. No matter how much draft pundits say that X player is an “NBA-ready” guy, we never truly know until they step foot on the court. In the draft, the name of the game is taking the players with the highest upside and giving him the best tools to improve. The Spurs did the right thing in drafting Wembanyama: if he pans out, he will be in conversations of the best player in league history.