FOX Sports Betting Analyst
The San Antonio Spurs’ rebuild took a great step in the right direction during the NBA Draft when they selected Victor Wembanyama with the first overall pick. And tonight, a new era in San Antonio begins as Wemby takes the court for NBA Summer League play against the second overall pick Brandon Miller and his Charlotte Hornets.
The Spurs are 6.5-point favorites for Victor’s debut and +1300 to win the Summer League title. Wembanyama has +1100 odds to win MVP of the tournament.
But regardless the Spurs are already winners.
Twenty-six years after landing the No. 1 overall pick and the opportunity to draft Hall of Famer and five-time world champion Tim Duncan, the Spurs won the 2023 draft lottery. The French phenom, Victor Wembanyama becomes the newest pillar in town after being drafted with the No.1 overall pick.
How much of a slam dunk was he to go No. 1? Wembanyama’s odds were as short as -20000 [$20,000 wins $100] to be selected first in the 2023 NBA Draft.
The 19-year-old Wembanyama stands 7-foot-3 with an 8-foot wingspan. He runs the floor like a deer and possesses otherworldly abilities for somebody his size. Wemby handles the ball like a guard, shoots it like a wing and finishes with authority like an old-school center.
We knew the young phenom was a foregone conclusion to be the first pick, but what kind of betting impact will he have on the upcoming season?
“I think he’s worth about 5.5 wins,” Westgate SuperBook vice president of risk management Jeff Sherman told FOX Sports. “The Spurs were so low at their floor, so it’s easier for a guy like this to make a large impact.”
San Antonio’s median regular-season win total was O/U 23.5 heading into last season, so a total just shy of 30 makes sense for 2023-24.
“Thirty wins seems a tad high [in terms of booking bets],” Sherman said. “But it’s close. The Spurs sat their better players down the stretch, and I’m sure they’ll spend money to add some veteran leadership.
“Maybe we’ll open 29.5.”
It’s easy to liken the hype around Wembanyama to the hype surrounding LeBron James when he entered the league back in the early 2000s. The two are obviously very different players with different skill sets, but the betting similarities are eerily similar.
Armed with a win total of 23.5, the Cleveland Cavaliers finished a measly 17-65 in 2002-03 and drafted LeBron with the first overall pick that summer. The Cavs overshot expectations the following season, finishing 35-47 and flying “Over” the Las Vegas total that was set at…
…you guessed it, 29.5.
What success looks like for Victor Wembanyama’s rookie season
Craig Carton and Tim Hardaway Sr. break down what a successful rookie season looks like for Wemby.
“The Spurs showed to be capable without Wembanyama,” FOX Bet sports trader Tieme Wesselink said via e-mail. “They’ve built a decent young core in recent years and will look to improve their roster via free agency and trades.”
Wembanyama has been playing grown-man basketball in France, and he also played in the Olympics. He’ll need to add weight and gain muscle, but the Spurs [could win 10 more games] with him in the fold.
With Wembanyama’s talent and head coach Gregg Popovich’s wizardry, I don’t necessarily hate a sprinkle on San Antonio to reach 30 wins next season. Inevitable growing pains will arise, though, and we’ll soon see how Wembanyama handles working through screen after screen after screen in the modern-day NBA.
We’ll also see endless highlights from the league’s next big star, and I already know wise guys that’ll be looking to bet the Spurs in the right spots as three-dollar underdogs or higher on the moneyline next season.
But that’s about as far as I’m willing to go.
Expectations for Victor Wembanyama in San Antonio?
Chandler Parsons joins Colin Cowherd to discuss their expectations for Victor Wembanyama with the San Antonio Spurs.
There are at least 12 teams in the West that’ll have a higher power rating than San Antonio by October, so it’s difficult to envision the Spurs winning the 40 games they’ll need to make the playoffs.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved Wembanyama telling ESPN, “he’s trying to win a ring ASAP,” immediately after the lottery. That’s the type of stuff you want rookies to say and think. But I refuse to burn money on San Antonio. Betting on the Spurs to win the Southwest Division, Western Conference or the Larry O’Brien Trophy?
The Spurs [+25000 at FanDuel Sportsbook] will not win an NBA championship next year, but they are certainly trending in the right direction for the future.
Sam Panayotovich is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and NESN. He previously worked for WGN Radio, NBC Sports and VSiN. He’ll probably pick against your favorite team. Follow him on Twitter @spshoot.
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