Wemby Watch: Here are the second reasons the NBA teams with the best shot to draft Wembanyama are thankful
It’s Thanksgiving week, so naturally, as this space is dedicated to a single basketball player, it only seemed natural to do a little bit of research on how our French protagonist will be spending his holiday. And “research” is a stand-in for Google, and “holiday” means (in this case) Thanksgiving, but, of course, they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in France. In fact, according to Google, most of France isn’t even sure what Thanksgiving is. (Royale with cheese. Hey, if you know, you know — if not, do your “research.”)
So for now, Victor Wembanyama must go about his week as usual. In a year, he’ll be munching on turkey legs and all the trimmings in the middle of the afternoon watching the Detroit Lions allow their fifth touchdown of the day along with the rest of us. But until then, he’ll just have to settle for the wealth and celebrity that come with his remarkable basketball gifts. Speaking of those gifts …
Wembanyama keeps Mets 92 hot
On the heels of a successful two-game stint with the French senior national team for a pair of FIBA qualifiers, Wembanyama picked up right where he left off with his Mets 92 team this week, scoring 30 points — his second 30-piece of the season — in a 92-85 win over Nanterre 92.
Against Nanterre, the team he first signed with as a professional in 2019, Wembanyama also tied his season-high with five blocks. With the win, Mets 92 extended its winning streak to seven games and into first place in the league after it opened the season with a loss.
Mets 92 will be back in action on Nov. 26 with a showdown against SLUC Nancy Basket scheduled for a 2 p.m. tipoff. The game — in fact, all of Wembanyama’s games this season — will be streamed free on the NBA app.
Nov. 26 — Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 at Nancy, 2 p.m. ETDec. 2 — Fos-sur-Mer, 2:30 p.m. ETDec. 6 — at Roanne, 2:00 p.m. ETRace to the Bottom
We’re gonna do something a bit different this week. In recognition of Thanksgiving, let’s find one thing each of our seven worst teams have to be thankful for — besides their slim shot at Wembanyama.
7. Oklahoma City Thunder: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander eats the sun and drinks the sky. If it’s possible to compete for the MVP award on a sub-.500 team, he’s going to do it. He’s one 3-pointer shy of a 50-40-90 season and he’s averaging over 31 points per game. The outcome doesn’t even matter for the Thunder this season. Tune into their games to watch this basketball jedi do things that no one else on Earth can do.
6. Los Angeles Lakers: Anthony Davis has found the fountain of youth, and apparently it’s in El Segundo. LeBron James believes that Davis is playing like his old self, and it’s hard to disagree based on his performance since James got hurt. The season could have ended for the 2-10 Lakers with James sidelined. Instead, Davis has dragged them back up to the precipice of respectability. The Pelicans may not be thrilled about it, but the Lakers are very thankful to have the superstar they once traded for back at full strength.
5. San Antonio Spurs: Remember when Devin Vassell was supposed to be a 3-and-D role player? Neither does he. The third-year wing is thriving in an expanded role to the tune of over 20 points per game. More importantly, he’s creating many of those points for himself. Vassell is scoring 1.111 points per possession as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, which ranks in the 92nd percentile league-wide. He may not be a superstar, but he’d make one heck of a teammate for Wembanyama if the lottery goes San Antonio’s way.
4. Orlando Magic: I’m just going to leave this Bol Bol highlight reel here for you to enjoy at your leisure. The Magic may not get Wembanyama but they have the discount version.
3. Charlotte Hornets: Okay … this one’s a challenge … I guess they’re seventh in the NBA in offensive rebounding rate? Their uniforms are still cool. Yeah, that works. Be thankful for cool uniforms.
2. Detroit Pistons: Jaden Ivey is averaging over 21 points per game in his last five appearances, and he’s done it with roughly league-average 3-point shooting. In a perfect world, the Pistons would have a healthy Cade Cunningham, but the silver lining for them is the opportunity his injury has given them to develop Ivey. The No. 4 pick has made the most of that opportunity, and if he keeps shooting well, his incredible speed is only going to make him a more lethal driver.
1. Houston Rockets: It’s often said that fans don’t like to watch losing teams. Those fans have never watched the Rockets. They’re bad but they’re not remotely boring. K.J. Martin is one of the NBA’s best dunkers. Alperen Sengun is definitely the NBA’s best Alperen Sengun, and to better understand what that means you should probably just go watch some of the funky stuff he does in the post. Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. score a bunch of points and give up even more of them. Nobody in Houston is clamoring for the Rockets to fast-forward through their rebuild because they’re perfectly fun as is.
Loss of the Week
There wasn’t anything too egregious this week, so we’ll take the opportunity to remind everyone to box out opposing guards. Bol Bol didn’t do that well enough in a Saturday loss to Indiana. If he had, a 108-107 loss is like a 109-106 win for the Magic.
It seems as though we’re using this excuse for the Magic every week, but this is a young team mistake. As of this writing, Bol Bol has played only 80 combined NBA and collegiate games. Basic mistakes like these get cleaned up with age. And if they help Orlando land Wembanyama? Well … nobody’s complaining.
Games of the Weak
Saturday, Nov. 26: Thunder at Rockets: OKC nearly escaped the bottom seven last week, but they’ve lost two straight and the limited cast around Gilgeous-Alexander is only going to allow so much winning. A trip to Houston is just what the doctor ordered.
Saturday, Nov. 26: Lakers at Spurs: The Spurs and Lakers actually play twice this week, once on Friday and once on Saturday. If our goal is to find the week’s worst games, we should probably pick the second half of their back-to-back.
Monday, Nov. 28: Pacers at Lakers: Sure, the game itself will be nice, but pre- and post-game will be the real story here. We’re going to see hugs and handshakes and cryptic quotes from LeBron James about Buddy Hield and Myles Turner. Who knows, maybe if the game goes well enough, the Pacers will just leave them in Los Angeles.