The OKC Thunder and Spurs tipped off their preseason slates on Monday night, but it was also the first time Chet Holmgren and Victor Wembanyama played on an NBA court.
With a solid second-half effort, the OKC Thunder beat the Spurs 122-121 after holding off a late Spurs run. Devonte’ Graham had a chance to steal the game for the Spurs at the buzzer but could not get his corner three to fall.
Chet Holmgren and Victor Wembanyama shine in preseason debut as OKC Thunder hold off Spurs late.
Holmgren wasted no time announcing his arrival to the NBA. In the first half, Holmgren racked up 21 points and nine rebounds.
Holmgren also displayed his presence at the basket, sending back one shot and affecting a few more. But he was not to be outdone by the Spurs’ big man.
Wembanyama’s 7-foot-4 frame helped him send back a shot and get a couple of steals. Along with the defense, Wembanyama shot 8-of-13 in an efficient preseason debut.
With 20 points, Wembanyama’s debut was an undeniable success. The first pick from this year’s draft showed glimpses of his potential greatness and was the best player on the floor for stretches.
San Antonio led 81-74 after a fast-paced first half. A frantic stretch to end the half, including a Jalen Williams block on one end followed by a putback dunk on the other, helped OKC cut into the deficit.
Williams, a Most Improved Player dark horse this season, finished with 12 points but shot just 4-of-12. The Thunder’s other MIP candidate, Josh Giddey, showed off his playmaking to begin the preseason.
Giddey finished with five assists, including a cross-court dime to Holmgren for three in the opening minutes. Both Giddey’s and Williams’ nights were done after the first half.
OKC Thunder offseason acquisition Davis Bertans quickly won over the home crowd with his 3-point shooting. Bertans finished with four makes from beyond the arc, all coming within the first four minutes of the second half to give the OKC Thunder the lead.
Second-year players Ousmane Dieng and Jaylin Williams also impressed against the Spurs. Dieng and Williams were incredibly active on the glass, with ten and seven rebounds, respectively.
Every available OKC Thunder player eventually made their way into the game. In a tight battle for the final roster spots, those are valuable minutes for players such as Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Jack White.
Oklahoma City takes the floor on Thursday night in Montreal against the Detroit Pistons for their second preseason tilt of the season.