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French Basketball Player Victor Wembanyama Wins Unanimous Rookie Of The Year

Isaac Tiomkin

Victor Wembenyama led the NBA with an impressive 3.6 blocks per game.

With a name that most casual basketball watchers fail to pronounce, Victor Wembanyama has entered the league and has proceeded to lay the foundation for a stretch of dominance that only a generational talent can produce. His unanimous Rookie of the Year (ROTY) victory came as no surprise to most NBA viewers, due to his sheer talent and dominance as a freshman in the league. He has followed a line of dominant big men in the league to win the award uncontested, such as Ralph Samson, David Robinson, and Blake Griffin. 

Standing at an imposing 7-foot-4, Wembanyama is the tallest of the bunch, an indispensable asset in the sport. His unique blend of height, length, and explosiveness has allowed him to guard entire teams alone. There exist abounding clips of Wembanyama sitting in the paint, bursting to the three point line, and dashing back into the paint to send a ball into the third row. In fact, he led the NBA in blocks at 3.6 blocks per game and had a block percentage of 10.1%, the highest of any player since 7-foot-6 Manute Bol in the mid-1980s. In addition, he accrued 1.2 steals per game, a very impressive number for a giant expected to camp within the perimeter of the three-point arc. This led to a genuine case for Wembanyama in the Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) race, where he lost narrowly to the four-time DPOY and fellow Frenchman Rudy Gobert.

Wembanyama was also an excellent scorer over the past season. His alien-like physique seems to make scoring a menial task for him, yet Wembanyama pushes himself to score in various ways. Most surprisingly, his off-the-dribble 3-point percentage was 41.3%, tying with elite guard and shot-creator Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. This only further highlights his capacity to craft his own buckets and his shiftiness at his monstrous size. His unanimous-ROTY-winner predecessors failed to even come close to such shot making. Greg Popovich, the San Antonio Spurs coach, played Wembanyama at power forward, a move unprecedented for a man of his size. In order to develop Wembanyama as the modern NBA prototype and to fully bring out his talents, he placed Wembanyama at a position less reliant on playing solely as the tallest man on the floor. This has forced him to bloom as an individual, something Wembanyama has visibly done effortlessly. 

Despite Wembanyama’s brimming and seemingly infinite potential and aptitude, there are still several aspects of his game that he can improve in order to reach for yet greater heights. Unlike his fellow heavyweight Nikola Jokic, Wembanyama’s passing has been subpar, averaging just under four assists. Although he may be able to run through forwards with his blinding acceleration and dominate guards with his size, he fails to see the open man, leading to a number of unintelligent shots. This is reflected in his true shooting percentage (TSP) of 55.2%, a stat taking into account 2-point shots, 3-point shots, and free throws. Wembanyama’s TSP is at around the league average, yet subpar for a forward, especially for one with production as elite as his own. He needs to raise his head and get his teammates more involved. That is winning basketball.

Despite his few shortcomings, Wembanyama has already proven himself to be a legendary talent, potentially the greatest that the NBA has seen thus far. His potential is tantalizing for players, analysts, and onlookers alike. As long as he stays healthy, there doesn’t seem to be a way to stop the unicorn. The world is slipping off the edge of its seats, eager to be dumbfounded by his abilities. The ball is in Wembanyama’s court.


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