NBA: Wembanyama bulks up ahead of debut season
San Antonio, United States—French prodigy Victor Wembanyama said Monday he has bulked up significantly as he prepares for the physically demanding rigors of his debut NBA season with the San Antonio Spurs.
The 19-year-old 7ft 3in phenomenon’s relatively slender physique was queried by some before he was chosen by San Antonio with the top pick in the NBA draft in June.
But Wembanyama revealed on Monday that he has piled on the muscle following his arrival in Texas as he readies for his first season in the world’s most unforgiving basketball crucible.
“I’ve gained 10 to 15 pounds,” Wembanyama told reporters at the Spurs media day.
“I try not to do too much, too quick. My physical condition is way better than any time in my life. We’re good.”
Wembanyama’s arrival in San Antonio has been greeted with frenzied excitement in the city, with many hoping the player billed as a generational talent can lead the club back to the summit of the NBA.
Wembanyama said that after a brief break to recharge following his selection by San Antonio, he was soon back at work.
“I did get away from pretty much everything for some time, for a couple of weeks. That restored me totally,” Wembanyama said.
“I often like to think the best players are the ones that work the hardest but you also need to know how to rest the hardest, and I rested the hardest for a couple of weeks.
“But then I was back here in San Antonio. I’ve been working better than any other moment in my life.
“Harder, but also smarter. And I think the off season will make a difference, not just for the upcoming season.
“The work we’ve done is going to impact the next few years I think.”
The Frenchman is targeting a return to the playoffs in his rookie year, determined to lead San Antonio back to the postseason for the first time since the 2018-2019 campaign.
‘A thinking person’
On Monday, Wembanyama said his expectations were to “learn how to win as quick as possible.”
Wembanyama will begin his NBA career under the guidance of San Antonio’s legendary coach Gregg Popovich, the 74-year-old three-time NBA Coach of the Year who led the Spurs to championships in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014.
Popovich on Monday said Wembanyama had blended seamlessly into the San Antonio set-up, praising the teenager’s intellect and maturity.
“For his age, he’s a thinking person,” Popovich said. “He’s highly intelligent. He’s a good man.
“So he hasn’t had nor will he have any problem blending in and gaining the respect of his team-mates, or understanding our community and what responsibilities he has. I don’t spend any moment whatsoever worrying about (if) he’s going to blend in.”
Wembanyama, meanwhile, said he had not yet witnessed the kind of fiery tirade that Popovich has become renowned for over the years — but stressed he would be ready for anything.
“For the moment we have not seen the tough side of Gregg Popovich,” Wembanyama said.
“I’m just waiting for that. There is no other alternative than having a tough coach, I am ready to take everything.
“The remarks, he can yell at me if it’s to progress, I’m just waiting for that.
“Of course I expect to have significant playing time. But the most important thing is how to coordinate everything and get involved in the collective.”
Wembanyama is expected to make his regular season debut for San Antonio on October 25 when the Spurs host the Dallas Mavericks in their first game of the 2023-2024 campaign.
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