Spurs take France’s Victor Wembanyama with first pick in NBA draft

Victor Wembanyama was selected by the San Antonio Spurs with the first overall pick in the NBA draft in New York on Thursday, making the highly regarded talent the most drafted French player in league history .


The 19-year-old “Wimby” entered the league with a splash not seen since the league’s all-time scoring leader, LeBron James, was drafted out of high school 20 years ago.

Winbanyama shed tears of joy after hearing NBA Commissioner Adam Silver call out his name.

“I’ve accomplished what I’ve dreamed of all my life,” he said. “Heard that line from Adam Silver and it made me dream. I gotta cry.

“It was the best night of my life.”

At 7ft 4in (2.24m), Wenbanyama has the stature of a center forward with the ballhandling, passing and shooting ability of a defender, a jaw-dropping combination that has the potential to revolutionize the game.

He has a dangerous long-range shot and is athletic enough to rebound and dunk on his own misses.

With a wingspan of nearly 8 feet, he blocks shots and rebounds with ease and moves up and down the court quickly for a player his size.

Despite his height, he weighs just 230 pounds (104 kilograms), and it remains to be seen if he can gain weight before the regular season begins in late October.

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich will be looking to further develop his unique skill set in hopes of reviving a storied franchise that has missed the playoffs for four straight seasons and has never played since 2017. Did not make it past the first round.

“I feel the love from the Tottenham fans,” said Winbanyama.

“I think San Antonio has my mural. It’s incredible. I couldn’t ask for a better welcome. I really love the fan base here, man.”

The Spurs had previously been selected as the No. 1 pick twice, selecting future Hall of Famer David Robinson in 1987 and Tim Duncan in 1997. They led the Spurs to two NBA championships, and Duncan won three championships with the Spurs.

The team has a successful history of French players, including Tony Parker, who led the team to four titles between 2003 and 2014, whom Winbanyama admired from a young age.

The previous top French player to enter the NBA was Killian Hayes, who was selected seventh overall by the Detroit Pistons in 2020. Basketball is popular in France, and the country has produced more NBA players than any other country outside North America.

Winbanyama played well for the French League professional Mets 92, averaging 21.6 points and 10.4 rebounds and winning several awards, including being named Most Valuable Player.

After Winbanyama got the first pick, the Charlotte Hornets selected Brandon Miller with the second pick and the Portland Trail Blazers selected Scott Henderson with the third pick.

billion dollar impact

Winbanyama’s impact on the Spurs was evident Thursday when more than 12,000 fans descended on the AT&T Center in San Antonio to watch the draft broadcast.

“In terms of brand equity, he’s going to add $1 billion to the value of their franchise,” Bob Dorfman, creative director and marketing analyst at Pinnacle Advertising, told Reuters. Valuable team, worth $7 billion, which could put the Spurs in the top 10.

“They’re going to get more TV exposure, more prime-time games. They’re probably going to sell out arenas every night, and they’re probably going to raise ticket prices a lot.”

Since winning the NBA draft lottery last month, the San Antonio Spurs have reportedly seen a spike in season ticket sales, as well as a 10-fold increase in web traffic and downloads of the Spurs app.

Dorfman said Wembanyama’s endorsement deal with Nike is expected to be the company’s largest payout for a basketball player, potentially reaching $100 million over 10 years.

Dorfman said French brands such as Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Peugeot and Dior with operations in the U.S. could be next.

“They’re all going to follow his bandwagon,” he said.


Leave a Comment