Wembanyama is set to make his long-awaited debut on Wednesday as the Spurs host the Dallas Mavericks. There has been much conversation about how many minutes the Spurs should play him, but Wembanyama is aiming to play as much as possible. Considering Chet Holmgren, the second pick last year, missed the entire season due to a foot injury with Oklahoma City, and with other star players missing time, there will certainly be a level of concern regarding Wembanyama’s health.
But Rivers, speaking on the “Dan Patrick Show” on Wednesday, believes the best path forward with Wembanyama is the 7-footer should play if he is healthy.
I think you just gotta play him. They see him every day. I wouldn’t worry about the minutes with him early. I’ve never heard that talk with rookies. Maybe because of Zion (Williamson) people are concerned or because of his body type; Chet gets injured last year. I think Pop is just going to play him 30-35 minutes a night if he is healthy. … I just think they’re not going to worry about it. If something tells them to, they will, but I don’t think that’s the game plan of worrying about minutes with him.
Wembanyama recently completed a productive preseason run, averaging 19.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, 1.5 assists and one steal on 50.9% shooting from the field in four games. He led all rookies in scoring and was tied for fifth among all players in total points (77).
The 19-year-old flashed every aspect of his game that made him such a highly-touted prospect. From his on-court production to his maturity off of the court, Wembanyama has dazzled virtually in every appearance with the Spurs.
Rivers, who is now working as an analyst with ESPN, agrees.
He looks special, like special, special to me in everything I see. Forget the talent and all of that. What I see that I like the most is he has this competitive thing in him that you can actually see. You saw it when they played Oklahoma. You saw it after the first bad game in the summer league in that second game. He did it a bunch last year, too. He has played with grown men already.
The debut of Wembanyama has been highly anticipated. He has drawn high praise from the top players, ranging from LeBron James to Magic Johnson to Stephen Curry. He has rare skill and ability for a player his size, which is expected to make him a generational talent.
He is expected to lead the Spurs back to prominence, and it will undoubtedly be documented on national TV and in front of packed arenas around the league throughout the season. The team believes he is ready for that challenge.