Meet Tim Martin, the coach behind Victor Wembanyama and his virtual workouts, defense-focused drills


When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, trainer and skills coach Tim Martin was on a tennis court four days a week in Dallas, demonstrating different drills without anyone else. It was just him and his laptop as he did workouts via Zoom.

His client was 5,000 miles away in Paris with a pair of AirPods, listening intently to Martin’s instructions, then almost immediately implementing them correctly. Victor Wembanyama, then 16, was like no one Martin had ever coached before, and he knew early on that Wembanyama was going to be special.

“His ability to hold information and master it on the court is just unreal,” Martin told Yahoo Sports. “When we were training via Zoom it was so different, but he found ways to improve every day.”

Martin would show him different drills and give him feedback if it corrected his ball placement, told him to keep his chest down or add an arc to his shot. These near-daily Zoom workouts continued for six months until the start of Wembanyama’s season with Nanterre 92 in September 2020.

“I would tell him to do something and he only needs one rep before he understands and understands. It’s different with every player I work with, but with Victor it’s ‘OK, do this or that. “and he’ll just go in and perfect whatever I showed him five minutes before, he won’t forget it. Next practice I’ll have him do something else, but it’s going to stem from something that we have worked two weeks ago and he will,” Martin says, shaking his head. “He always moves with such ease and wants to improve every time he steps on the pitch. That’s what makes him great and what separates him from others.”

Once gyms started to open, Martin continued his Zoom workouts with Wembanyama and also did in-person workouts with some of his NBA clients. Martin has trained countless NBA players over the years, helping players like Trae young, Rudy GobertNic Claxton, Josh Powell and PJ Washington work on their art.

He would have finished running through drills with Indiana Pacers Philadelphia 76ers center and guard Myles Turner Tyrese Maxey then work virtually on Wembanyama. Maxey and Turner would both get the chance to say hello and it would be another year and a half before the three would train as a group in person.

“It was a really interesting phase, but it was a good starting point for our relationship for him to continue to build on the fundamentals and the foundations to carry him into the next part of his career,” added Martin.

Last summer, Wembanyama and his family traveled to Dallas to hit the gym with Martin for three weeks. Maxey remembers seeing Wembanyama enter for the first time and was immediately blown away by his size.

“He’s huge, he’s really big,” Maxey told Yahoo Sports. “Seeing him in a movie or in highlights is different from seeing him in person.”

The first time the duo trained with Martin was at the end of one of Maxey’s individual sessions. Wembanyama wanted to work on his lateral quickness and asked Maxey if he could just play defense all the time in a one-on-one drill.

“Nobody ever said, ‘Hey come on man, let’s go one-on-one, but I’ll be on defense all the time,’ I never heard of that in my life,” Maxey said. “Every time I scored he was so competitive he wanted to make every save he asked to go over and over again just so he could get reps on the guard switch on the perimeter. Dude is different.’ “

As good as Wembanyama is in attack, Martin says it’s his defense that impresses him the most. Offensively, Wembanyama is drain one-legged 3-pointers like it’s no big deal, catching lobs in transition after taking off from the free throw line and showcasing his elite footwork in the paint. Defensively, it’s the subtle things that don’t show up on the stat line that stand out the most.

“He modifies probably 40% of the shots made when he’s on the field,” Martin said. “He blocks jump shots from a spin on the weak side, not many guys do that. He can cover so much ground, it’s crazy. If Victor was in the NBA today, he would be the best defensive player in the game. league. On the ball he can change, he can go low, widen the gap, everything.”

Wembanyama warned the entire basketball world during two exhibition games in Las Vegas in early October. He averaged 36.5 points and 4.5 blocks in a pair of games against tough competition and former G League Ignite team pros. As everyone watched in awe as Wembanyama dropped seven 3-pointers in Game 1 and completely took over Game 2, doing anything and everything to bring his team to victory, Martin sat down at the Dollar Loan Center and focused on the subtle things Wembanyama was doing.

“I don’t really watch the game, I watch it,” Martin said. “I’m waiting for the little mistake. Maybe it’s in his footwork or his ball placement. I watch how he breathes during free throws. Maybe it’s him not using his hips around the seam or holding his breath when he shoots. How he’s catching the ball, his back if he’s not going down, if he’s very heavy. Those aspects that don’t really stand out are what I look at and that I look for when he plays.

Wembanyama is unlike any prospect NBA scouts have ever seen. He’s been the league’s most anticipated player since james lebron in 2003. The top NBA players all took notice of Wembanyama, with James calling him a generational-type talent.

“Everyone’s been a unicorn for the past few years, but he’s more like an alien,” said the Los Angeles Lakers the star said of Wembanyama after seeing him play for the first time. “No one has ever seen someone as tall as him, but as fluid and graceful as he is on the floor. His ability to put the ball on the ground, to pull back jumpers off the post, to catch and- shoot three, block shots.”

Victor Wembanyama used virtual workouts with Dallas-based coach Tim Martin during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to work on skills that made him the No. 1 predicted pick in the NBA Draft in 2023. (GAIZKA IROZ/AFP via Getty Images)

“The league is really in trouble when he arrives. … Everyone is really excited for his arrival in the league,” Kevin Durant said.

“Get Ready, My Friend” Giannis Antetokounmpo Told Serge Ibaka on his cooking show. “I’ve never seen that in my life. He’s bigger than Rudy Gobert. He can block shots like Rudy, but he shoots like Kevin Durant. Bro, that’s crazy. And he’s got a great attitude. S ‘He stays healthy, he’s going to be really good.”

Even players from Wembanyama’s draft class were more than impressed with what they saw at the start of the French phenomenon.

“You never see 7-foot-4 guys dribble the ball and shoot like KD, that’s crazy,” Arkansas rookie Nick Smith Jr. said, an expected top-five pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, told Yahoo Sports. “He’s a great player and he does things on the pitch where you’re just like, ‘What? How did he do that?’ I can’t wait to see what he does in the league.”

Wembanyama drew early NBA comparisons to Gobert, Durant and Kristaps Porzingis and is expected to be a mix of all three players. For Martin, there is no player line-up for Wembanyama.

“He’s someone we’ve never seen before,” Martin said. “Victor is carving his own path in this world of basketball and there really is no cap for Victor. He will go into space if he needs to.”

“Honestly, it’s just Victor, there’s no comp for him,” Maxey added. “I’m not going to call him Kevin Durant, I’m not going to call him Rudy Gobert, he’s just Victor. I can’t give him another name and I can’t wait to see him compete at the NBA level.”

Martin will continue to work with Wembanyama ahead of the draft, whether through phone calls or trips to France for games during his season with the Metropolitans 92. There is immense pressure on a player not only who should be #1. 1 pick in the draft, but who is also the best player to have entered the scene in almost 20 years.

“He doesn’t really pay attention to noise,” Martin said. “Players who are at Victor’s level, they don’t really care about all the noise. They let other people speculate and talk and all they focus on is continuing to find ways to improve and c is what he does. With who his i.e. he could be the greatest of all time and it might sound crazy but with Victor no one is going to put more expectations on him and about who he can be than himself. He has a clear vision of what he wants to be and I know it’s bigger than basketball. He wants to be the best version of him.”

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Richard V. Johnson