Victor Wembanyama and Chet Holmgren didn’t know it was practice because no one told them.
The up-and-coming rookie stars put on a show as they made their NBA starts on Monday. Wembanyama’s San Antonio Spurs lost to Holmgren’s Oklahoma City Thunder 122-121. But the end score was different from what this was about.
People were interested in how the 7-foot-plus stars played in their first NBA game. As expected, they showed off their unmatched size, shooting ability, skill, and athleticism in a head-to-head battle in the post and beyond.
Wembanyama put on a show in the first quarter by scoring 10 points, blocking a shot, and making four of his first five shots. His block of Jalen Williams’s layup try from behind showed how tough it will be for people who want to score in San Antonio.
Holmgren responded with 14 points and seven rebounds in the first quarter. A catch-and-shoot 3-pointer from the bench showed how far he could shoot.
Holmgren showed versatility by taking rebounds on defense and then keeping the ball to run the Thunder’s fast break several times.
Wembanyama scored an and-one in the middle of the first quarter by jerking Holmgren off the court at the basket.
Later, Wembanyama poked Cason Wallace’s drive to the basket, which let go of the ball. He then ran to the other goal. After Malaki Branham grabbed the loose ball, he hit Wembanyama with a half-court drive pass, setting him up for a transition dunk. To answer, Holmgren drove from coast to coast for an and-1 layup.
When Holmgren was guarding, Wembanyama beat him with a crazy scoop shot at the basket after driving from beyond the 3-point line in the second quarter.
Later, both players made three-pointers from the top of the key.
Wembanyama finished the game with 20 points, five rebounds, two steals, and one block. He made 8 of 13 field goals and 2 of 5 3-point shots. His whole game lasted 19 minutes.
Holmgren scored 21 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and blocked one shot. He made 7 of 10 shots from the field, and both of his three-point tries. Both players rested for most of the second half after 14 minutes of play by him.
Because of how well both players played, the NBA and its fans should be drooling.
After years of being the most talked-about talent since LeBron James in 2003, Wembanyama is finally in the NBA. Holmgren, the No. 2 pick in the 2022 draft, is starting after a long absence because of an injury to Lisfranc. Both teams are full of young players, and they hope this battle will last for years in the Western Conference.