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How did Victor Wembanyama play in NBA debut? Spurs rookie overcomes foul trouble to shine in loss to Mavericks | Sporting News

On Wednesday, all eyes were on the Frost Bank Center for the beginning of the Victor Wembanyama era in San Antonio.

The 19-year-old’s NBA debut was filled with ups and downs.

In front of a sold-out San Antonio crowd and the millions of NBA fans that tuned in worldwide, Wembanyama calmly and coolly took the floor. Wembanyama finished with 15 points, five rebounds, two assists and a block in 23 minutes of action, a noteworthy debut for one of the most hyped prospects in the history of the game.

As always, there’s much more to the story than the numbers. And while Wembanyama’s stat line may not necessarily jump off the page, it’s worth taking a deeper dive into his performance.

MORE: The best highlights from Victor Wembanyama’s NBA debut

How did Victor Wembanyama play in his NBA debut?

It didn’t take much time for Wembanyama to make his presence felt in this one.

In what may become a nightly occurrence, Wembanyama won the opening tip for San Antonio, which quickly got on the board first. On the first-ever defensive possession of his career, Wembanyama recorded the first-ever stat of his career, blocking a mid-range shot attempt from Kyrie Irving.

Wembanyama looked sharp early on, picking up an assist by finding Zach Collins. A few possessions later, Wembanyama wasn’t shy at all, coming up short on a pull-up 3, his first shot attempt of the night.

As comfortable as he looked on the first attempt, it makes sense that Wembanyama’s first NBA points came from beyond the arc as he drained a 26-footer assisted by Devin Vassell.

With under two minutes remaining in the first quarter, Wembanyama hit a second 3-pointer. 68 seconds later, he committed his second foul of the night.

Foul trouble would end up dimming some of Wembanyama’s light in his debut.

MORE: What are reasonable expectations for Victor Wembanyama in his rookie year?

After picking up his third and fourth fouls early in the second half, Wembanyama was forced to sit for the final 8:37 of the fourth quarter. He returned at the start of the fourth only to return to the bench 26 seconds into the frame after picking up his fifth foul.

Wembanyama would sit for another four minutes before returning to the game. As it turns out, the final seven minutes of the game were all the No. 1 pick needed to live up to the hype.

After putting his wingspan on display with an impressive alley-oop finish, Wembanyama reached double figures with a face-up 3-pointer, a reminder that his combination of size and skill is just not normal.

Two possessions later, Wembanyama dunked through contact to put the Spurs back ahead and bring his total to 15 points on the night. After scoring six points through the first three quarters, Wembanyama needed less than three minutes of game time to add nine to his tally.

MORE: LaMarcus Aldridge explains blueprint for Wembanyama’s success

Takeaways from Victor Wembanyama’s debut

Overall, the biggest takeaway from Wembanyama’s debut is that despite the foul trouble, he is the kind of talent capable of still finding a way to have an impact on the game.

It was a perimeter-heavy showing for the rookie, who went 3-of-5 from beyond the arc and 3-of-4 from 2-point range. It may seem strange, but Wembanyama does have a perimeter-oriented game.

Defensively, the impact is there, so long as he can avoid fouling. It was no secret that Wembanyama had all of the tools, but he also possesses the IQ needed to make a defensive impact much greater than a typical standout rookie.

Wembanyama has been called a unicorn and an alien but his NBA debut is a reminder that he is indeed human. A teenager at that. Some of the nerves associated with playing on such an occasion undoubtedly had a hand in his foul trouble and rookie mistakes in the game.

He may not have broken records but Wembanyama’s first game marks the start of something special in San Antonio and the NBA. His late spurt is the biggest reminder that he’ll be just fine, regardless of what type of adversity comes his way.

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