Boston Celtics

Why Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama found playing vs. Celtics ‘inspiring'

"It's difficult to play against them."

NBC Universal, Inc.

A player's rookie season is a time to learn about the NBA and what it takes to win at the highest level.

San Antonio Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama hasn't experienced much winning early in his pro career, but he got a pretty good view of what it looks like on New Year's Eve when his team played against the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics, who own the league's best record at 26-6, made their first and only trip of the season to San Antonio for Sunday night's New Year's Eve game versus the Spurs.

The C's executed almost flawlessly and cruised to a 134-101 victory. Boston had six players score double-digit points, while also committing only 10 turnovers and 12 fouls as a team. The Celtics put on a clinic, and Wembanyama came away quite impressed by what he witnessed.

"It's difficult to play against them and it's a good challenge," Wembanyama told reporters in his postgame press conference. "I think we learned today. They made very few mistakes and that's inspiring."

Wembanyama, to his credit, played a good game. He scored 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting, along with seven rebounds, three assists and one block in just 24 minutes.

The Spurs were a tough team to predict before the season. The hype around Wembanyama was absolutely massive. There are some other good young players on San Antonio's roster, including recent first-round picks Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson. Some people predicted that, led by Wembanyama, the Spurs could potentially compete for a play-in tournament spot.

But the Spurs remain a long, long ways from being a contender. They lost 18 straight games from Nov. 5 through Dec. 13 and have a 5-27 record -- last place in the Western Conference -- entering Tuesday.

The future is still very bright for the Spurs thanks to Wembanyama. And if he can adopt some of the good habits the Celtics play with, it's scary to think just how good he can become.

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