Former Rockets coach reveals biggest challenges Spurs' Victor Wembanyama will face as rookie

2023 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot
2023 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot / Mike Lawrie/GettyImages

The 2022-23 NBA season was pivotal for rebuilding teams, as they hoped to be lucky enough to land the ability to draft French sensation Victor Wembanyama. The French big man has been viewed by many as the most NBA-ready prospect since LeBron James in 2003, which made teams like the Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, and Houston Rockets salivate, as each team has been in search of a bonafide superstar like Wemby.

And rightfully so, as it's not often that a generational can't-miss prospect comes around. For this reason, we began to see teams with elite talents try to enter the Wemby race late in the season, like the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks, despite having All-NBA players such as Damian Lillard, Luka Doncic, and Kyrie Irving. 

The Spurs ultimately landed Wemby, much to the chagrin of Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, who openly admitted that he was praying for Wembanyama. Wemby has been dubbed as such a sure thing that his mere presence adds a perceived $80-100 million annually. But with hype adds pressure and Wemby's star has grown so large that the expectations have become lofty, as explained by former Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy.

Van Gundy was on The Wheelhouse with Jake Asman, Cody Stoots, & Brad Kellner on ESPN 97.5 & 92.5 FM Houston and stated the following.

"I was reading a quote from one of these talk show guys- I forget the name- and he said that if Wembanyama turns out to be Kevin Durant or Hakeem Olajuwon or somebody else who is an all-time great, that it would be a disappointment.

And I just think stuff like that is foolish. 

I think we have to let young players progress at their own rate. It's not going to be easy."

Van Gundy cited several struggles that he believes Wembanyama will encounter off the bat.

Former Rockets coach reveals biggest challenges Spurs' Victor Wembanyama will face as rookie

"People who think that he's just gonna come right in, as a 19-year-old and dominate, don't understand how good the other players are on these other teams and how physical it's gonna be.

I think when you're whatever he measured- 7'3 and a half or whatever it is- people can get up and under you. And I think it's gonna take a while to figure out how to handle the different defenders in this league. But I think he's poised to have a terrific career. Hopefully, for he and the Spurs, it's an all-time great career.

But I just don't think we should be analyzing him on every shot of every game and actually looking to deingrate his performance."

Wembanyama struggled off the muscle during his Summer League debut, as he scored just nine points in his much-anticipated debut, going 2-of-13 from the field, while grabbing eight rebounds and blocking five shots. Wemby bounced back in his second showing in Las Vegas, scoring 27 points on an efficient 9-of-14 from the field, while grabbing 12 rebounds and blocking three shots.

Although the former Houston Rockets coach tried to urge the basketball world to have level-headed, realistic expectations of Wemby, the reality is that the media is well past that.

And the media is a machine that builds players up so they can tear them down when they struggle.

Hopefully Wemby is ready for the NBA. Because it's going to get ugly if he isn't.