Victor Wembanyama’s NBA debut falls short of expectations despite Lakers’ legend Shaquille O’Neal’s blessings

Victor Wembanyama garnered significant attention and hype within the NBA community well before being selected as the first overall pick in the 2023 draft. His NBA debut had been eagerly anticipated by fans and basketball enthusiasts. The long-awaited day arrived as the San Antonio Spurs hosted the Dallas Mavericks.

Wembanyama finally made his NBA debut as a rookie on Wednesday night. However, something unexpected occurred, disappointing both the home fans and those who had traveled to witness his debut, despite receiving blessings from Shaquille O’Neal.

Victor Wembanyama falls short to Mavs in NBA debut

Wednesday night gave Victor Wembanyama the opportunity he was waiting for, as he made his  NBA debut. However, Wembanyama’s first NBA game didn’t unfold as he had anticipated. He grappled with the sky-high expectations set for him. The Spurs suffered a 126-119 loss to the Mavericks on their home court, and Wembanyama frequently found himself in foul trouble. Surprisingly, he wasn’t even the standout rookie on the court.

Victor Wembanyama
Via Getty

The 12th pick, Dereck Lively II, outperformed Wembanyama as both centers made their NBA debuts. Lively had a double-double of 16 points, made seven of eight field goal attempts, and also made 10 rebounds on the same night as a debutant. Several people who made their way to see Wembanyama’s debut were disappointed.

Victor Wembanyama played only 23 minutes that night due to early fouls, causing him to sit out most of the second and third quarters. He managed to score 15 points, grab five rebounds, dish out two assists, record two steals, and block one shot. While it might not have been the superstar performance some expected, Wemby’s fourth-quarter offensive outburst demonstrated his potential as a highly valuable player in the future.

Shaq bestowed ‘big man alliance’ honor on Wembanyama ahead of debut

On opening night, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal had some encouraging words for Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama. As Wembanyama was about to make his NBA debut with a game against the Mavericks, Shaq honored him with the title of an honorary member of the ‘Big Man Alliance,’ a distinction created by Shaq to celebrate the league’s top centers.

Victor Wembanyama
Via Getty

According to a tweet from Legion Hoops, Shaq commented on Victor Wembayanma, stating, “I’m not gonna put a lot of pressure on him. He’s 19, a rookie. But from the highlights I’ve seen, he’s definitely in the ‘big man alliance’ already. And I never give it up that early.”

Shaq, a 4-time NBA champion, isn’t quick to praise up-and-coming and unproven centers, but he made an exception for Wembanyama, who earned the recognition of being part of the “big man alliance” even before playing a single NBA game.

When Victor Wembanyama joined the Spurs last summer, he carried the weight of being tipped as the most promising prospect since LeBron James. He has embraced the hype and anticipation surrounding his arrival and is ready to take the league by storm.

However, his NBA success will depend on his performance in the paint. If he can establish himself as a reliable post player and an elite shot-blocker, it could take his game to new heights in the league.

Shariare Hasib

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Shariare Hasib is an NBA Editor at SportsKnot. With a master's degree in journalism from a prestigious university, Shariare started writing about the sport during his undergraduate years. Since then, he has been fascinated by LeBron James' lasting impact as well as Stephen Curry's incredible consistency. He specializes in live basketball coverage. Apart from reporting on trade speculations and match updates during off-season activities, Shariare frequently interacts with fan communities to stay abreast of the constantly evolving NBA scene.


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