NBA: JJ Redick hails the Spurs as a perfect fit for Victor Wembanyama

Victor Wembanyama has a ‘perfect situation’ waiting for him on the San Antonio Spurs, says J.J. Redick as he hails head coach Gregg Popovich as ideal mentor for NBA’s next superstar

  • The Spurs’ won big on Tuesday after being allocated the No. 1 pick of the draft
  • Popovich is the oldest coach in the league, yet also the one with the most wins
  • provides all the latest international sports news 

J.J. Redick has hailed the San Antonio Spurs as a ‘perfect situation’ for top NBA Draft prospect Victor Wembanyama, pinpointing to the tradition of prioritizing youth and talent at the Texas-based franchise under longtime head coach Gregg Popovich.

Appearing on ESPN’s ‘Get Up’ morning TV show on Wednesday, the former guard, who last played for the Dallas Mavericks in 2021, added: ‘There’s a good young core there with [Jeremy] Sohan, Kelton Johnson, Devin Vassell, Trey Jones. They’ve gotten a clear track history of player development but we obviously know about Pop. 

‘Brett Brown being there now will be a huge boost. And look, I’ve watched him play.

‘The one thing I’ll say and Windy knows this, a lot of times with these European prospects, the club teams don’t play them a ton of minutes. There’s not high level production. The one guy I think of is Luka Doncic, who was the guy for Real Madrid. 

‘He was used to being the number one option from day one in the NBA. And the fact that Wembanyama got that opportunity this year and his age in a pro league and France. That’s going to speak volumes, I think to his early impact for the San Antonio Spurs.’

On Tuesday night, the Spurs were designated the No. 1 pick of this year’s draft class, meaning the Texas-based franchise will likely selected top French talent Victor Wembanyama

Retired NBA pro JJ Redick has hailed San Antonio as the perfect place for ‘Wemby’ to develop

In an instant, the San Antonio’s fortunes changed in a big way on Tuesday night. Wembanyama – the NBA’s newest star – is on his way to the USA, and Popovich – the coaching wins leader in the history of basketball – will be waiting for him.

The right combination of ping-pong balls – 14, 5, 8 and 2 were the winning ones – and gave the Spurs victory in the 2023 draft lottery, meaning they’ll have the No. 1 pick June 22. That means they’ve won the Wembanyama sweepstakes, and that four years of losing in a way that had never before happened under Popovich has actually paid off.

Pop and Wemby. A 74-year-old wine connoisseur who is one of the best basketball coaches in the world, and a 19-year-old supertalent who hails from the land where some of the best wines are made.

The NBA has a new dynamic duo.

‘When you talk about generational talents, it’s often times beyond just your ability to make a shot or your ability to jump or your ability to put the ball on the floor,’ Spurs general manager Brian Wright said. 

‘It’s all of the little details that go into being great, becoming great. And as we’ve studied Victor, he is very in-depth with everything that he does, whether it’s on the court, whether it’s training, or things that he’s into off the court.’

The coaching wins leader in NBA history with five NBA titles to his name is Gregg Popovich 

If the 7-foot-3 Wembanyama brings his current warm-up routine to the NBA, it’ll be like none other. He’s barefoot on the court for probably a good 15 or 20 minutes, stretching and doing various other things to get his feet ready. There’s also some very specific ballhandling and passing things that he likes to do. It’s not just a few shots, few dunks, few 3-pointers and go play. There’s a plan and a reason for everything.

Popovich will love that. He knows Wembanyama has been taught the right way; the kid spent last year playing for Spurs icon Tony Parker’s franchise in France, and is spending this season getting coached by Vincent Collet. That’s someone Popovich coached against with the U.S. at the 2019 World Cup and the Tokyo Olympics. Popovich raves about Collet, not hiding his respect level for him at all.

They’ll talk before long about Wembanyama. That’s certain. Pop will immerse himself into knowing everything that makes the kid tick, just so he knows how he’ll react to every situation he’ll face with the Spurs next season and beyond.

‘His ability to connect and spend time and bounce between the really detailed development of basketball players and the bigger picture of developing people is just so impressive,’ Spurs managing partner Peter J. Holt said. ‘I think no matter what Pop does, he’s going to find a way to do that because that’s in his heart. And I’m excited to see whatever the next phase is in that journey.’

This is an embarrassment of lottery riches for the Spurs. Let’s be clear: They’re not giving this back. But winning the lottery in 1987 and landing David Robinson was big, then winning the lottery again in 1997 and landing Tim Duncan was bigger, and now comes Wembanyama.

It’s big. How big, well, that story will get told in the coming years.

‘Now it becomes real,’ former NBA player Ian Mahinmi – one of more than 40 international players that Popovich has had during his tenure in San Antonio – said during the telecast of Wembanyama’s French league game Tuesday. ‘Now everything becomes real.’

Adam Silver, Commissioner of the NBA poses for a photo with Victor Wembanyama in January

Popovich talked before the Spurs’ last game of the season about how, during his career, he has been the ‘beneficiary of serendipity to a max degree.’

He’s not wrong. And more good fortune has come to San Antonio. The Spurs haven’t won a playoff series since 2017 and went a combined 121-186 over the last four seasons. They basically lost more games in the last four years than they did in the previous eight years combined.

The losing ends now, if Wembanyama has anything to say about it. He’s coming to the NBA with eyes on becoming a superstar, an icon, a champion. And he’s about to become the star of the latest – and perhaps final – phase of Popovich’s career.

‘Today was a good day,’ Wembanyama tweeted after the lottery.

Popovich doesn’t tweet, but he and everyone else in San Antonio surely felt the same way. After 60 losses this season, they got the win they wanted most.

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