Victor Wembanyama is certainly one of the most promising young talents in the league. Highly touted to be the next big thing the NBA has seen, Wemby needs great mentorship to tap into his full potential. And there couldn’t be a better ask for the 7ft 4” French phenom than to play under the coaching of the winningest coach in league history – Gregg Popovich.
During the 2023-2024 campaign’s tip-off, the Inside the NBA panel had a brief discussion about Victor Wembanyama as the San Antonio Spurs were all set to host the Dallas Mavericks for their season opener. The Chuckster weighed in on the discussion by stating that Wemby was fortunate enough to pick Gregg Popovich’s brain.
Charles Barkley believes that Gregg Popovich will be good for Wembanyama’s development
Charles Barkley kickstarted the conversation on Inside the NBA by displaying a lot of faith in Coach Pop. According to Chuck, a lot of players with good potential cannot live up to their hype due to the lack of the presence of a great coach. However, for the European prodigy, things couldn’t have been any better now that he’s got the opportunity to pick Coach Popovich’s brain.
The 74-year-old coach has a great track record coaching foreign talents. Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Tim Duncan are all living examples for the same argument. Hence, Barkley isn’t incorrect when he predicts that the Spurs head coach will have a huge responsibility in molding the youngster.
“I think a lot of players with high expectations get ruined cause they got crap coaches, this dude got one of the best ever to do it in Coach Popovich. I think that’s the best thing he got going for him,” Barkley said.
One of Coach Pop’s best traits is allowing foreign players to transition into NBA basketball with the utmost ease. At the same time, Popovich is also known for being candid. He has made sure that the players, especially the stars, are held accountable. Hence, cursing them out whenever required is not something that Pop shies away from.
“If you talk to Tony Parker, Ginobili, Tim Duncan, they say ‘he curses everybody out’. There are so many coaches, in college especially, and NBA, they are scared of players, they’re worried about guys transferring or getting them fired. Coach Popovich is gonna teach him to play basketball the right way and I can’t wait to watch it,” Barkley said.
In order to thrive in the league, a player as talented as Wembanyama needs a coach who deals with him with the utmost transparency.
Coach Pop lauds Victor Wembanyama for his maturity
Victor Wembanyama is merely 19 years old but conducts himself with a lot of professionalism. Having played in the French League has to be a huge reason behind the same. Since he’s played in professional leagues before, the San Antonio Spurs have been extremely lucky to have received a mature and humble talent.
Coach Popovich shed light upon the maturity that the teenager possesses. A few days ahead of the season opener, the Hall Of Famer praised the rookie:
“There’s been a lot of hype around him [Wembanyama] for a long time and he doesn’t let it affect him. He’s very mature. He’s very emotionally strong. His priorities are in order. He’s very professional already.”
While Wemby has been earning a lot of praise, reports revealed that Coach Pop yelled at him during training camp. The #1 pick of the 2023 Draft didn’t seem to be disheartened. Instead, Wembanyama revealed that it was all part of the learning curve.