Victor Wembanyama scores 9 points on NBA Summer League debut for Spurs

San Antonio Spurs' Victor Wembanyama

On Friday, Victor Wembanyama made his Summer League debut in front of a rare sold-out crowd in Las Vegas. (AP/John Locher)

Victor Wembanyama’s NBA career got off to a slow start on Friday night.

Wembanyama, in front of a sold-out crowd at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, scored nine points with eight rebounds and five blocks in his Summer League opener. Wembanyama shot just 2 of 13 from the field, or about 15 percent, in the San Antonio Spurs’ 76-68 win over the Charlotte Hornets.

“I just have to get used to the new style of play… Next time I’ll do better,” Wembanyama told ESPN after the game. “I hope to do better each time.”

The Spurs officially selected Wembanyama with the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft last month. The nearly 7-foot-4 center has been touted as the NBA’s hottest prospect since LeBron James and has been turning heads in France. He is the first overall No. 1 pick to come out of France and is the first European player to be first in the draft without playing NCAA college basketball since 2006. He just completed a season in the French league LNB Pro A where he led the league in points, rebounds and blocks while winning league MVP and leading his team to the Finals.

Wembanyama ran into a bit of a problem in Las Vegas before Friday’s game even started. He was involved in an incident on Wednesday when a member of his security team confronted pop star Brittney Spears as she tried to get his attention at the Aria Hotel. A police report was filed, but officials did not press charges after an investigation showed Spears accidentally punched herself in the face after her hand was pushed away from Wembanyama’s back. Wembanyama said he didn’t know who Spears was during the incident and that he “kept walking and enjoyed a nice dinner.”

The Wembanyama hype has been very real, and it’s easy to see why. Friday was only the second time a Summer League session was sold out ahead of time, and the first time an opening session was sold out. NBA legends like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jerry West were in attendance. ESPN continued to show live looks at Wembanyama during the Portland-Houston match before his as well.

Wembanyama missed his first three shots of the night, including one that was a dunk, but he eventually got a 5-foot turnover to fall through two Hornets players early in the first quarter.

He was only 1 of 7 off the field in the first half and missed all three of his 3-point attempts, but Wembanyama was still making plenty of impressive plays at both ends of the court.

Wembanyama also found himself on the wrong side of a second-half poster.

Hornets forward Kai Jones threw a huge dunk and fouled Wembanyama midway through the third quarter.

Wembanyama didn’t attempt a shot in the third quarter and was then crossed by Hornets rookie Brandon Miller.

Finally, Wembanyama earned a 3-pointer to fall late in the fourth quarter. He also fouled the play and converted the play at four points. He finished the day shooting 2 of 13 from the field with eight rebounds, five blocks and three assists.

Julia Champagnie led the Spurs with 20 points and eight rebounds. Malaki Branham added 17 points

Miller, who went No. 2 overall in the draft, led the Hornets with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Bryce McGowens added 15 points and James Bouknight finished with 14 points and nine rebounds.

Although Wembanyama’s debut wasn’t as flashy as many would have liked, there’s no reason to overreact. The 19-year-old has only played one Summer League game so far. He has plenty of time to settle in the league.

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