Friday, June 21 2024

Victor Wembanyama‘s rookie season is certainly one for the history books, as he seems like he might just conquer the Rookie of the Year, an All-Defense selection and maybe even the Defensive Player of the Year award. The 19-year-old also just became the youngest player ever to lead the NBA in total blocks and averages in a single campaign. 

Despite his already impressive resume, the young star doesn’t believe he’s anywhere close to his potential. When asked to reflect on his first season in the big leagues, he guarantees he’s only progressed 15% toward the prime version of himself.

“I would say that I am currently at 15% between my first NBA game and what I hope will be my prime,” he said recently, even though he’s improved incredibly throughout his first year in the United States. The San Antonio center averaged 21.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.2 steals, and 3.6 blocks this season.

The Spurs’ No. 1 overall pick from the 2023 draft just became the first player in the league to ever post 10 blocks and 5 assists in under 30 minutes played. This performance came in as his last of the campaign, during a clash against the Nuggets on Friday night.

Earlier in the year, he also clinched the history books as the first rookie with 150 blocks, 150 assists, and 50 steals in a season since Tim Duncan did over 25 years ago. The French star also ranked 10th in total rebounds with 755, 7th in defensive rebounds (594), 6th in usage percentage at 32.2% and second in defensive rating with 106.1.

After his clash against the reigning champions last weekend came to an end, he yelled in celebration and later called their triumph “maybe the biggest win of the season.” Beating Denver as the last team in the Western Conference was quite the feat.

“It just makes every win feel even more special,” Wembanyama expressed in his final game of the campaign. “As a growing team, a young team, it’s big for us. We are going to need these kinds of wins in the future.”

Many stars around the NBA believe Wemby should be crowned the Defensive Player of the Year despite his age

At the start of the year, Draymond Green said that the rookie sensation shouldn’t win the Defensive Player of the Year award, but only a month later he admitted he was mistaken as Wembanyama had truly earned it. Another who gave him similar praise was Kyrie Irving, one of the best offensive players in the league.

“You got to be aware of him late challenging, and he has the timing of a guard. I don’t know if it’s just he’s played against guards, but I’m just saying, I think he’s got a lot of reps of playing against good guards and guarding them one-on-one. Today, I thought I had a reverse layup and he ended up blocking it on the left side, because I thought he was going to be on the right side. But he has this long wingspan, so he covers up a lot of space,” the Mavericks guard said.

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Even though Dallas have beaten their Texan rivals all three times this campaign, Irving is convinced that the Spurs center “does do things like a Defensive Player of the Year would,” and “showing signs that’s he’s exceeded all the Defensive Player of the Year stats of the previous guys that have won it.”

“Me as a competitor and challenger, I like going in there and challenging him, because if you can finish on [Victor Wembanyama], I feel like you can finish on anybody in the world. He’s going to block some and he’s going to make you change it, but it’s only going to make you better as a basketball player,” he shared last month.

Source: Basketball Insider

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