The back wall of the visiting locker room in Dallas was about as good of a resource for Victor Wembanyama that could possibly exist.
On the left, there was LeBron James, the first pick in the 2003 NBA draft who was tasked with turning around the Cleveland Cavaliers. And on the right, there was Anthony Davis, the top pick in the 2012 NBA draft, the player tasked with turning around things in New Orleans.
As Davis spoke about the pressures No. 1 picks deal with, the kind of pressure that’s going to be waiting for Wembanyama throughout his time in the league, he yelled over to James.
“What you do in your rookie year?”
“As far as what?” James asked back.
“Playoffs,” Davis said.
“Sat on my couch,” James quipped.
The point Davis was trying to make was this: “Don’t think that you have to turn the franchise around in your first year,” he said. “Even the greatest ever to lace them up didn’t do it in his rookie year. So I think you just slow roll it, take your time.”
The Spurs, though, have lost 17 straight games as the Lakers get their first official look at Wembanyama on Wednesday and Friday, the No. 1 overall pick not winning a game since he announced his arrival with 38 points in a national TV win over Phoenix on Nov. 2.
It’s been a rocky stretch, his jump shot abandoning him as the turnovers and losing have piled up. His defensive impact remains — he’s averaged 3.0 blocks and 1.2 steals during the losing streak — but the challenges are mounting.
After the Lakers lost to Dallas on Tuesday, Davis was asked about the pressure of being that top pick, the anointed face of a franchise.
“He’s got probably the best coach to ever do it over there with him to help him do all that. To be in his ear. Just, it’s tough,” Davis said. “Obviously a lot of pressure. Everyone is locking on you, whether it’s the media or other players coming in that you’re facing. Pressure on you to perform well from the outside. …You just got to go in and just play, find your way. You’re going to have ups and downs in the season.
“Obviously, he’s an exceptional talent. But don’t stress yourself out over the pressure from everyone else. You’ve got to know what your team wants from you.”