On Thursday, San Antonio Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama garnered the attention of all basketball fans, as he had a dazzling performance against the Phoenix Suns, leading the Spurs to a 132-121 victory. Wembanyama dropped 38 points on 57.6 percent from the field (15-of-26), 50 percent from three (3-of-6), 10 rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and one steal.
Wemby had 20 points in the first half, which was a sign of things to come for the Suns. Wemby's big night proved that Frank Vogel and the Suns didn't pay attention to Wemby's two performances against the Houston Rockets, which saw him score 15 points on 3-of-10 from the field and two turnovers in the first match during the preseason and 21 points on 7-of-19 shooting, 0-for-6 from three, and four turnovers in last Friday's regular season match.
In Wemby's second game against the Rockets, he shot 46.6 percent true shooting and posted a measly 36.8 percent effective field goal percentage. Which is the definition of effective defense.
The Suns should've paid attention to the Rockets' defensive gameplan on Victor Wembanyama.
After the game, Rockets coach Ime Udoka explained the secret sauce to keeping the Spurs big man in check.
"Toughness on the rebounds that he's getting put backs. Be physical with him and get him out of his spots.
Obviously, he's gonna be able to jump over you but it's not really the shots that he's taking over you, it's the ones that he's getting by guys and getting to the basket and getting those dunks and all of that.
Force him to take somewhat contested shots."
Rockets assistant coach Mike Moser added more color to the Rockets' defensive gameplan on the generational big man.
"Just physicality. We're gonna throw alot of different bodies on him. We're gonna switch. Make sure we get him outside of the paint.
He's a big guy, so we've gotta get him away from the basket."
Rockets 3-and-D ace Dillon Brooks, who is one of the league's best defenders and was essentially the Rockets' primary defender on Wemby in crunch time, explained what works against the 7-foot-4 rookie.
"Crowd [his] space. Make every shot difficult. And try to play physical within the rules of the game."
The Suns were letting Wemby get to his spots, rather that bumping him and getting physical with him, which is essentially the only way to contain him. Wembanyama had easy drives to the basket and hit easy, uncontested pull-up jumpers, which resulted in a loss for Phoenix.
Maybe now they'll pay attention to the Rockets' defensive success on him next time.