How true is the NBA analyst’s claim?


San Antonio Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama is the hottest rookie in a league full of big-name talent, but is he alone enough to make San Antonio a hot spot on the free agency market?

At least one analyst seems to think so. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony spoke directly about Wembanyama’s draw to the Spurs and the willingness of other NBA talents to move to South Texas to play with the young superstar.

“Every free agent, every veteran guard that hits the market,” Givony went on to say The Ringer’s NBA Draft Show. “They all want to play with Victor.”

While players’ willingness to join a team because of a second-year player isn’t something you see every day in the NBA, it’s hard to blame free agents for wanting to play alongside the Rookie of The Year instead by in return for it. Wembanyama’s incredible height and wingspan play a role in his prowess on both the attacking and defensive ends of the court, which can be a headache for any team or player even when thinking about matchups.

It’s safe to say that players would sleep much better before the games if they didn’t have to worry about “The Alien” from France the night before.

READ MORE: Why Victor Wembanyama’s seven NBA votes mean more than you think

What’s especially telling about Givony’s comments is the fact that the Spurs haven’t signed a major free agent since LaMarcus Aldridge in 2015, potentially competing for the biggest name the Spurs have ever signed out of free agency — not counting Dominique Wilkins. .

Regardless of the league’s admiration for Gregg Popovich’s personality and coaching talent, San Antonio has never been a landing spot for big names. It could have to do with the fact that the team simply didn’t need to be around for a large number of years, the size of the market, or even that the Spurs simply prefer their homegrown and scouted talent.

Whatever the case, one thing is certain: Victor Wembanyama is ready to change that.

Spurs center Victor Wembanyama gets the rebound against Los Angeles Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell at Arena.

February 23, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama (1) gets the rebound against Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell (1) during the first half at Arena. / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no surprise that players in the league want to team up with Wembanyama in San Antonio. He has the ability to make any guard look better with his sensational finishes above the rim and the attention he draws from the defense. Any high-level playmaker would have a field day with an offensive threat like Wembanyama in the post, above the rim or even out to the three-point line.

The opportunity for young guards to develop at Wembanyama would be incredible for both players’ careers personally and in a team environment.

READ MORE: What could Sixth Man of the Year candidate Malik Monk bring to San Antonio?

In his segment, Givony also commented on Spurs’ potential timeline with Wembanyama and where they want to go this season. He explained that from all the sources he has around Spurs, it is clear that the team does not want to be part of a long-term rebuild in the coming years.

In other words, there is an urgency in San Antonio to become competitive early in their young star’s career, similar to the way the team operated when Tim Duncan was drafted in 1997.

It wouldn’t be surprising if this is the year the Spurs decide to make the leap into free agency to get Wembanyama some help. Given the impact the 20-year-old made on his team last season, bringing in a veteran guard, or really any big free agent, would send a Spurs team that hovered around the bottom of the league last year straight to Western. Conference battle.

The Spurs don’t need to compete for championships right away, but they have the ability to be competitive and if you know anything about Wembanyama or Popovich, if they have the opportunity to compete, they will.

Spurs center Victor Wembanyama (1) and head coach Gregg Popovich speak during a break in action against the Utah Jazz.

March 27, 2024; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama (1) and head coach Gregg Popovich speak during a break in action against the Utah Jazz during the third quarter at Delta Center. / Rob Gray – USA TODAY Sports

It also makes financial sense for Spurs to make a move for a big name this season. If the Spurs decide to move on from unfavorable contracts like Devonte’ Graham, who is only making about $2 million guaranteed next year, they could have more than $30 million to play with in free agency.

That kind of money gives the Spurs a plethora of options heading into the offseason. The key for Spurs is to be patient and find a player who not only fits their needs, but also the timeline the team is on.

Everything is coming together just right for the Spurs to enter free agency and come out with a big name. Having a 20-year-old, lob-finishing, shot-blocking, 7-foot-4 phenom fresh off a Rookie of The Year award is a bargaining tool most GMs would love to have in their pocket.

Brian Wright and Spurs are equipped with the right tools to make an impact.

Now it’s up to them to pull the trigger.