VCF Sports >Football World >Wemby Watch: Joel Embiid's 70-point masterpiece 'inspiring' Victor Wembanyama

Wemby Watch: Joel Embiid's 70-point masterpiece 'inspiring' Victor Wembanyama

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Stay up to date on No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama during his rookie campaign with the San Antonio Spurs. A new Wemby Watch drops every Sunday during the season. Here’s what we saw this week:


Welcome to the League moment 🤷‍♂️

Reigning Kia MVP Joel Embiid walked up behind Wembanyama during pregame warmups on Monday and comically sized up the prized San Antonio rookie. But it was the Sixers star who emerged as the towering figure in Philadelphia’s 133-123 victory.

Embiid's first look at @wemby 🤣😂🤣#PorVida | @Spurs | @BallySports 📺 pic.twitter.com/tAWPRXl4Gi

— Bally Sports San Antonio (@BallySportsSA) January 23, 2024

On a night that Wembanyama stuffed the stat sheet for 33 points on 10-for-19 shooting, Embiid stole all the shine by breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s franchise record with 70 points over 37 minutes, becoming the ninth player in league history to produce 70 points in a game.

Wembanyama called the performance “inspiring.”

Embiid racked up 25 points in the third period alone on 10-for-15 shooting to go into the fourth sitting on 59 points.

“A few years back, it was more of a guard’s game,” Wembanyama noted. “But now, it’s come back to a big man’s game. I think it makes sense in terms of the game. We’ve got guys, some guys all around the league who do a lot of stuff despite being very tall. It’s the way the game changes. Now, we’ve got to adapt.”

Wembanyama’s opponents certainly feel similarly.


Praise from reigning Kia MVP 👏

Embiid caught wind of Wembanyama describing his 70-point masterpiece as “inspiring” during Monday’s postgame session with the media, and encouraged the rookie to strive for more.

“If he says it’s inspiring, I hope in a couple years – hopefully when I don’t have to guard him and I’m out of the league – he’s able to do the same thing, and go out and break all these records, and possibly break Wilt’s record of 100 points.”


Rookie showdown 💪

NBA Rivals week brought us the second showdown between the two frontrunners for Kia Rookie of the Year, and although Wembanyama outscored Oklahoma City’s Chet Holmgren, the Thunder thrashed San Antonio 140-114 at Frost Bank Center.

Both players tried their best to downplay the rivalry, but they couldn’t hide the chippiness that turned into a fun back-and-forth between the budding stars.

The good news for the fans is they’ll clash twice more Feb. 29 (8:30 ET, League Pass) and Apr. 10 (8 ET, League Pass).


1-man highlight reel 🤯

Check out Victor Wembanyama's best plays with the Spurs from Week 14 of the 2023-24 NBA season.

You’ve encountered something special from a player when his gaffes draw audible gasps. That’s what we saw from Wembanyama on Friday during a 116-100 win over Portland.

Late in that game, Wembanyama rose for a baseline dunk and lost control. The rookie’s arm hit the backboard on the way up, as he attempted to throw down a jam from an awkward angle just behind the glass.


Batman 🦇

Forget the movies and comics. Wembanyama caught the live-action version of Batman on Sunday with the Timberwolves in town. A bat swooped down towards the court just a minute into San Antonio’s 113-112 upset victory over Minnesota, after Wembanyama drilled a 3-pointer for the Spurs’ first bucket. Officials halted play. 

On cue, the theme song from the 1960s Batman television show blared over the speaker system. Meanwhile, the team’s mascot, Coyote, sprung into action, sprinting to the floor wearing a Batman costume and carrying a net, as Sochan ambled over for a closer look.

Looks like they got the bat. pic.twitter.com/4DdDy7Gm7h

— Michael C. Wright (@mikecwright) January 28, 2024

The Coyote eventually bagged the bat. Wembanyama and Jeremy Sochan walked over for a look inside the net, and officials signaled to resume play.

Yes, Hall of Famer and renowned bat nabber Manu Ginobili was in attendance. He’s retired, though.

Further investigation revealed that team officials saw the bat flying around the arena during pregame. That gave the Coyote and game operations officials a heads-up to turn the animal’s capture into a Frost Bank Center in-game production.

Wembanyama would only add to the drama on the floor with 23 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and two blocks, draining a nifty stepback 26-footer with 1:55 left to give San Antonio a five-point lead over the Timberwolves. He missed a pair of free throws with 49.7 seconds left and the Spurs clinging to a 112-110 lead.

Luckily, Wembanyama caught some Robin-like support from Devin Vassell (25 points) and Keldon Johnson, who knocked down the game-winning free throw, marking San Antonio’s second victory in three outings.

That’s progress.


On the court 🏀

San Antonio’s medical staff finally on Wednesday lifted Wembanyama’s minutes restriction. It was imposed back in December as a result of Wembanyama suffering multiple ankle injuries over a short span, but the club continues to resist any urge to push limits.

As a result, Wembanyama participated in his first back-to-back Friday and Saturday since mid-November, and came away unscathed, scoring 23 points on the second night of a two-game set in San Antonio’s upset win over Minnesota.

He played 29:45 in that game, and hasn’t crossed the 30-minute mark since Dec. 17.


One stat to know 📊

Wembanyama logged 125 blocks and 122 assists over his first 40 games. No player in the last 40 years has tallied both 100 blocks and 100 assists in fewer than 42 games. Dikembe Mutombo did it during the 1991-92 season.


His teammates ⛹️‍♂️ 

With the Wembanyama Show fully underway, it’s time to also highlight Sochan, who in a roundabout way, played a role in the rookie’s game blossoming.

A second-year power forward, Sochan started the first 19 games of the season at point guard spot as part of a lofty plan to surround Wembanyama with length. You’ve heard about small ball, right? Well, this was supposed to be big ball with the 6-foot-8 Sochan running the point.

San Antonio abandoned the experiment in Game 20, and moved Sochan back to power forward, the position in which he started last season 53 games as a rookie.

That resulted in Wembanyama shifting to center and a move to the bench for Zach Collins. Tre Jones then replaced Sochan at point guard.

The changes opened up this young Spurs squad to tap into its full potential with Wembanyama as the versatile lynchpin on both ends of the floor as the 5.

Sochan, meanwhile, picked up where he left off last season from the forward spot. He displayed as much Friday with 31 points and 14 rebounds in the win over the Trail Blazers.

“His energy, it reminded me of that game he had against the Hawks [on Nov. 30],” Wembanyama said. “He’s just a great player in every aspect of the game. So, it makes me happy to see that.”


Circle on calendar 📅

The two most recent No. 1 picks in NBA history will face off for the first time as 2022 first-overall pick Paolo Banchero leads the Orlando Magic into a matchup against Wembanyama and Spurs on Wednesday (8 ET, League Pass).


In the News 📺

The French phenom leads the Kia Rookie Ladder for the seventh time this season, but Holmgren has held that spot on five occasions.

Holmgren generated some serious momentum earlier in the season, and has taken home NBA Rookie of the Month twice. Wembanyama still hasn’t yet won Rookie of the Month, but he might be starting to pull away in the sweepstakes for Kia Rookie of the Year.

* * *

Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for NBA.com. E-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on X.

Michaela Gilmer is a producer for NBA.com.

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