Zion Williamson and Victor Wembanyama meet as the Spurs play the Pelicans.

December 1 -In the 2023 NBA draft, the arrival of Victor Wembanyama in the San Antonio Spurs brings back memories of Zion Williamson’s entry with the New Orleans Pelicans in the 2019 draft.

Both players were seen as rare talents, and their entry into the NBA was met with extraordinary excitement. The NBA welcomed their exceptional prospects with open arms.

For the first time, two former number-one draft picks will face each other when the Spurs take on the Pelicans on Friday night.

As both teams navigate the responsibilities of managing Wembanyama and Williamson, they are contemplating long-term strategies.

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich mentioned that Wembanyama, who was doubtful due to a knee injury before playing against the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday, won’t be able to play on Friday after the Spurs’ consecutive 13th loss.

In just 29 minutes, Wembanyama—who leads the Spurs in scoring, rebounding, blocks, and steals—scored 21 points, pulled down 12 rebounds, blocked four shots, and made two steals versus Atlanta. Later on in the game, he said that his knee wasn’t bothering him.

Popovich said, “We’re attempting to keep him safe. How his knee reacts to this will be observed.”

Conversely, Williamson—a two-time All-Star—had a difficult career beginning because of a number of ailments that limited his availability.

Although the season started a month ago, the fact that Williamson has yet to play a single game due to injury is as noteworthy as his average of 24 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.9 assists.

n a 124-114 home win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, Williamson put on his greatest performance of the season, scoring 33 points on a strong 11–12 shooting night. Williamson had more than 25 points in a game for the sixth straight time.

The Pelicans, who had suffered two consecutive losses against the Utah Jazz, never trailed against the 76ers, who played without Joel Embiid due to illness.

Williamson said, “We were coming off two tough losses. We wanted to get back in the win column, so I think that really motivated us to push forward.”

New Orleans built a 20-point lead at halftime and extended it to 29 points before the fourth quarter, nearly reaching a double-digit lead in the final quarter.

Coach Willie Green of the Pelicans stated, “We got off to a tremendous start in the game. We started the third quarter well and continued to play effectively; even though we only prevailed by one, we maintained our advantage and kept trying to score.”

Pelicans forward/guard Trey Murphy III, who had been sidelined since September after undergoing left meniscus surgery, is hopeful to start his season on Friday. However, New Orleans announced that center Jaxson Hayes has a fractured right wrist and will be out for four to six weeks.

In the game against the Hawks, Spurs’ Jerami Sochan scored a career-high 33 points. However, with 2.7 seconds remaining and the Spurs trying to equalize, San Antonio called a timeout since Sochan, who had built a 15-point lead in the first half, was summoned to attempt a charge.

San Antonio struggled with 21 turnovers, leaving Sochan frustrated. He said, “If we cut down on turnovers by five or six, we win that game.”

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