How will Spurs build a squad around Victor Wembanyama? Your options are practically limitless

The San Antonio Spurs were the best match for Victor Wembanyama for several reasons. Gregg Popovich’s experience leading a young, big man will be crucial. The organization has had more success with French players than any other in the NBA. There is an established culture and infrastructure that Wembanyama can trust from the moment he arrives in Texas.

But San Antonio’s roster composition tops that list. In short, Spurs are a blank slate. You are not bound by any pre-existing schematic or contractual obligations. They don’t have expensive veterans. They haven’t designed a high utilization ball handler recently. Your young players are relatively malleable. This is a roster that can be actively shaped around the kind of player Wembanyama ultimately emerges as. The Spurs can run this thing in just about any direction.

So let’s take a look at where Spurs are now and where they could go in the next few years. What do you have? What do you need? And how might they approach this off-season?


Tre Jones made great strides last season, but the point guard is still by far San Antonio’s greatest need. You just can’t count on surviving on offense when your career starter is a 27.1% defender and an average playmaker at best. San Antonio will need a primary ball handler. While Wembanyama is their best option, Denver is the only team in the NBA that truly has a big man directing its offense, and it’s safe to say that as a rookie, Wembanyama won’t have Nikola Jokic’s instincts.

Jokic is important at the other end of the positional spectrum for San Antonio as Spurs clearly don’t want Wembanyama to defend him just yet. Maybe he’ll build enough mass across the board to pull it off, but for now he’s a strong forward on defense. Jakob Poeltl would have been a good defensive fit next to Wembanyama, but Spurs sent him to Toronto at the close of play. Jeremy Sochan was San Antonio’s main power forward last year, but at 6-9 and 230 pounds, he’s probably not tall enough to defend most top centers. Luckily, he’s defensively versatile enough to slide down positionally when needed.

Spurs have plenty of players of that ilk. Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson both tick the ‘reasonably versatile wing’ box. Vassell was averaging nearly 39% on seven 3-point attempts per game last season, allowing him to be used immediately alongside Wembanyama as a distance player who can also create his own looks in midfield. Johnson is the athlete of the group leading San Antonio in both restricted area shot attempts per game (6) and making restricted area shots per game (3.6). His shot is still a mystery. If he shoots 39.8% from deep like in 2022? He will fit in perfectly. Is it closer to last season’s 32.9%? Things are getting a little darker. Sochan is a total non-shooter but offers so much as a defender, rebounder and playmaker that Spurs will do everything in their power to make it work reasonably well.


San Antonio’s draft equity beyond the No. 1 is relatively tenuous this season. You can get valuable contributors in 33rd and 44th place overall, but second-round picks are seldom safe bets. No, San Antonio’s true draft flexibility lies in his future picks. The Spurs control all of their first-round picks, and also own the following picks from other teams:

  • 2024 via Charlotte Hornets (protected 1-14 in 2024 and 2025 before moving to second-round picks).
  • 2024 via Toronto Raptors (protected 1-6 in 2024-2026 before moving to second-round picks).
  • 2025 via Atlanta Hawks (unprotected).
  • 2025 over the Chicago Bulls (protected 1-10 in 2025 and 1-8 in 2026 and 2027 before becoming a second-round pick).
  • 2027 via Atlanta Hawks (unprotected).
  • 2026 trade rights with the Atlanta Hawks (unprotected).
  • 2028 swap rights with the Boston Celtics (only protected #1 overall).

That’s not exactly Oklahoma City’s pile of draft picks, but it’s not far off either. That’s five first-round picks, two of which are unprotected, and two more trades that San Antonio should exercise well enough if Wembanyama is the player they want him to be. With all this capital to play with, the Spurs have access to almost every prospect in the draft. So who makes sense?

Well… anyone… and nobody. This isn’t a draft full of players that fit San Antonio’s specific needs. The only true center with first-round consensus is Dukes Dereck Lively, and while this class is packed with combo guards, there aren’t many traditional floor generals. This means that San Antonio, like most teams beginning a rebuild, should be working on a Best Available Prospect mindset. If there’s a player in their trading space that they think makes sense, they can afford to go for it. Unless? You might as well be patient.

Free agency

The Spurs can create around $37 million in leeway, and there are plenty of ways to spend that in the free-agent market. The point guard market is relatively thin. San Antonio could afford to go for Fred VanVleet but the competition for him will be stiff and it’s worth asking whether it makes sense to commit to a long-term deal with a 29-year-old before joining Wembanyama at all sees court.

However, if the Spurs want to target the point guard as free agency, their options apart from VanVleet are pretty slim. There’s Kyrie Irving… not exactly an ideal influence on a young star. And then there are the four former members of the 2023 Los Angeles Lakers (D’Angelo Russell, Patrick Beverley, Russell Westbrook, and Dennis Schroder), but none of them make sense for a variety of reasons. Thereafter? The only viable starter is Gabe Vincent from Miami. The Heat are struggling with luxury tax and have their sights set on Damian Lillard, so he’s likely to be available, but he’s much more of a point guard-sized scorer than your typical tablesetter. With that in mind, point guard is likely a position they are pursuing in the trading market.

But the appetizer? There you will have more options. Draymond Green and Kristaps Porzingis are the real options here, but chances are San Antonio won’t want to spend on someone as old as Green or as frail as Porzingis. Go a little further down the list and the options start looking a little more appealing. How about a supply arc for Grant Williams, who’s massive enough to defend at center but shoots well enough to play power forward on offense? Rui Hachimura offers a variant of these abilities that is more offensively oriented. Brook Lopez is likely to be available for a relatively short deal and is one of the NBA’s best 3-and-D centers. Heck, the Spurs might even try to win Poeltl back from Toronto.

The tall man market is relatively large this off-season. Spurs have the money to hunt whoever they want. That could mean a younger player they can easily integrate into their core, or, in the case of someone like Lopez, a placeholder to help Wembanyama while Spurs figure out what makes long-term sense alongside him.


The short-term goal is to find a point guard. If San Antonio wants to take the fallback route, they have options. The Heat, for example, would probably like to save up some tax dollars and get out of Kyle Lowry’s final year of contract. If he’s willing to come to San Antonio this late in his career, the Spurs could probably get him for a pittance and simply ask him to help them build a cohesive offense for a year before parting ways. The high-end version of this approach would involve a move from Chris Paul, although the odds that he’ll be happy to play for Spurs next season seem slim.

Longer-term options are available, but these are dependent on San Antonio’s willingness to absorb long-term salaries. Take Terry Rozier for example. If the Hornets can sign Scoot Henderson 2nd overall, they will have two young top point guards on rookie contracts in LaMelo Ball. That makes Rozier expendable, but would Spurs want to pay him $75m for the next? three seasons? Probably not. Boston might have a solution. The Celtics have a bit of a guard glut and Malcolm Brogdon has become a frequent name in the rumor mill. He’s owed $45 million over the next two seasons, giving Spurs a medium-term answer that could potentially last longer.

But the truth is, when it comes to players like Wembanyama, short-term, gap-filling trades rarely make the difference. It’s entirely possible that Spurs will keep their powder dry for a big move in the near future. With those five additional tradable first-round picks and Wembanyama as a recruit, the Spurs should have a decent shot at picking up a second star in the near future if they want to. San Antonio may not seem like a star-friendly market, but remember that Spurs once lured LaMarcus Aldridge into a free hand. The best players usually want to win. Wembanyama is a ticket to the championship fight.

The star market is far too unpredictable to really speculate on names. Players of this caliber often force transfers to specific teams. For example, we can point out that Luka Doncic already lives in Texas and that Joel Embiid obtained French citizenship in 2022 and may play with Wembanyama in the France national team at the 2024 Olympics, but for now these players are rooted with other teams and not actively seeking exercise.

Ultimately, however, Wembanyama’s future squad will likely be determined by a player we can’t identify just yet. Spurs are well placed to sidekick him if that player becomes available. But until then? They can do almost anything to build a squad around their #1 overall standings.

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