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Victor Wembanyama Battles with Another Rookie of the Year Candidate in Preseason Debut

Joe Paige | Sports Editor

Although it may just be preseason. The race for rookie of the year has already begun heating up. The no. 1 pick in this year's draft, Victor Wembanyama made his preseason debut on Monday against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Everybody’s eyes would also be focused on last years no. 2 pick Chet Holmgren, who missed the entire 2022-23 season after sustaining a Lisfranc injury in his right foot during that offseason .

Both Wembanyama and Holmgren have faced similar comparisons when projecting their potential. As 6’11+ shot creators, they both take heavy influence from Kevin Durant the slim reaper himself, and are a part of this new wave of stretch-five bigs.

From the jump the two unicorns clashed for offensive and defensive rebounds. There were a number of moments where Wembanyama would do something unbelievable that made the croud roar. One moment in particular, where Jalen Williams for OKC beat Wembanyama off the dribble to go for a layup. Wembanyama with all of his length still managed to swat the ball away from the basket, it even made Kenrich Williams on OKC’s bench stand up with excitement.

Another notable moment would be when Wembanyama would be get handed the ball at the top of the key, guarded by Holmgren, he went right at the no. 2 pick driving all the way to the basket. Later that night, Holmgren would react to the play on X, pointing out the way Wembanyama headbutted him on that drive to the basket.

Wembanyama would continue to showcase his unique playstyle, shooting off the dribble three-point shots as well as display his ability to get to the basket with such ease and quickness. ESPN Senior Writer Adrian Wojnarowski reported after the game quoting what San Antonios staff has been talking about what they’ve seen from him so far:

| "Victor Wembanyama does two or three things everyday, that you've never seen a basketball player do before."

The no. 1 pick would sit out in the fourth quarter, but the game still went down to wire. It would be Oklahoma City’s defense that gave them the edge to come out on top, winning the game 121-122. Wembanyama would finish the game with 20 points and 5 rebounds, as well as a good amount of highlights for fans to dissect for the next few weeks until the regular season begins.


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