Wembanyama at the top of the rookie basket

Wembanyama at the top of the rookie basket
Wembanyama at the top of the rookie basket

Mathieu Warnier, Media365: published on Tuesday May 7, 2024 at 8:20 p.m.

While he was unanimously elected rookie of the year in the NBA, Victor Wembanyama impressed greatly throughout the season. When we compare him to those who preceded him, the Frenchman does better than compete, a sign of certain potential.

What little suspense remained was over. Following a vote by 99 specialist journalists, Victor Wembanyama was unanimously elected NBA rookie of the year, becoming the sixth to achieve this feat in history and the first since Karl-Anthony Towns in 2016. A consecration which was expected as the rivals of the “Alien” were few in number. But the question that may arise is that of the place taken by the San Antonio Spurs player among the rookies who have left the most mark on the North American basketball league. For this, we must turn to the statistics and we must admit that they are flattering for Victor Wembanyama. His physique having been closely managed by Gregg Popovich, the former Boulogne-Levallois player did not play all 82 matches of the regular season, making do with 71 appearances during the six months of competition. This is also felt in terms of playing time.

Wembanyama competes with his elders

The latter averaged 30 minutes when his glorious elders such as Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James, some of whom did not fail to congratulate him, were getting closer to 40 minutes during their first season at highest level. Comfortable shooting, and not just in the racket, “Wemby” concluded the 2023-2024 financial year with an average of 21.4 units per match. While Michael Jordan was at 28.2, LeBron James was satisfied with 20.9 points per game in 2003-2004 with the Cleveland Cavaliers. As for the Spurs, the Habs are ahead of Tim Duncan (21.1) by a short head but have not beaten David Robinson (24.3). It is the same for rebounds, 12.0 against 10.6 for “Wemby” while Shaquille O’Neal, with his very imposing size, has no rival in this area (13.9). In the assists department, Victor Wembanyama was able to demonstrate his sense of teamwork, reaching an average of 3.9 offerings per match. The masters of play that are Michael Jordan and LeBron James (5.9 each) are not a coherent point of comparison.

“Wemby”, worthy successor to Robinson and Duncan

But he remains well above Shaq (1.9), Kevin Durant (2.4) or David Robinson (2.0). Address remains his Achilles heel, he who finished with 46% of shots finding the target. The Habs can, however, boast of having done better than the “King” (42%) but remain at a distance from Shaquille O’Neal (56%) or Tim Duncan (55%). For the counterattacks, it’s another story and the extraordinary size of Victor Wembanyama helps a lot. With an average reaching 3.6 blocks per game, the Habs are reaching new heights, rivaling David Robinson (3.9) and Shaquille O’Neal (3.5). Finally, interceptions were not the French international’s specialty but, with an average of 1.2, he was far from ridiculous. When it comes time to take stock, Victor Wembanyama is in line with his predecessors at Spurs, David Robinson and Tim Duncan, despite less playing time. It will now be up to him to write his own history, growing his influence on and off the field to allow the Texan franchise to become essential again.

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