Inform · Connect · Entertain

Spartan Scoop

Spartan Scoop

Inform · Connect · Entertain

Spartan Scoop


Rookie making headlines and setting records early in the season
Victor Wembanyama when he was playing in the French league
Wikimedia Commons
Victor Wembanyama when he was playing in the French league

Victor Wembanyama is said to be the best prospect in the NBA right now; some even say he may be the best in history. Though he stands at 7 ‘4”, Wembanyama is anything but a typical big man in the way he plays. Yes, he can be dominant in the paint, make dunking look easy, and block opponents’ shots, but none of these abilities are what makes him so promising in the NBA.

Victor Wembanyama built a reputation for himself when he played in France as a multi-threat player. It’s rare for players over 7 feet tall even to attempt three-pointers, but it is an essential part of Wembanyama’s game. The fact that Victor can score from anywhere on his side of the court at his enormous size is incredible, this is what made him such a hyped-up prospect.

The San Antonio Spurs finished dead last last year in the Western Conference, with a record of 22-60. Because of this, they “earned” the first overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft. When Wembanyama declared for the NBA draft on Mar. 12, 2023, it was a given that the Spurs would take him first overall. 

Wembanyama got through the preseason, and there were flashes of the brilliance promised by many sports analysts and fans. The real test though would come in the regular season.

With such high praise for a player, there is a lot of pressure to prove people right; and also to prove people wrong. With all of the praise, there is also going to be some criticism, especially when the player has not had a chance to prove any of the speculation correct or incorrect. 

The first few games of the regular season were solid for Wembanyama, but none of his stats were jump-off-the-paper outstanding. This was until Thursday, November 2nd in Phoenix Arizona, against the Phoenix Suns. In this game, Wembanyama played the most minutes of a game in his young career. He played for 34 minutes of the 48 in the game, showing off his stamina, even at his staggering height.

In the game, Wembanyama finished with 38 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 assists, and a steal. 38 points at all is impressive, but to do it in less than 3 quarters of the game is extremely impressive, especially for a rookie. Wembanyama set the tone early in the game with a vicious block on Devin Booker in the first minute. The defensive capabilities of this young player are awe-inspiring for him being one of the youngest players in the NBA.

Wembanyama averaged 1.11 points per minute played against the Suns on Nov. 2. To put this in perspective, Lebron James’ career average points per minute is 0.71. The rookie is the first player since 1976 to have 38 points or more in one of their first five games. He is also the first rookie since Shaquille O’Neil in 1992 to have 100 points and 10 blocks through 5 games.

In the game after the impressive 38-pointer, Wembanyama managed to put together another solid game, with 20 points and 5 blocks. He played the most minutes out of any game in his young career, with 38. The five blocks in a single game are also telling other teams around the league that the rookie can be a skilled defender, not just in the paint. 

There have been some struggles in the season too though. Wembanyama is not shooting as well so far as he may have hoped to. He was renowned before the season as a great mid-range and 3-point shooter, but he has been rather unable to prove that so far. He has a field-goal average of just 46.2 percent so far on the season, which is just under the league average. For being noted for his great shooting ability, he has been just below average so far on the season, and fans hope to see more out of him in this aspect of his game.

Wembanyama has shown that he can be an effective scorer, and a great defender, but in his most recent game, he did not play as many minutes as the two previous games. He spent more than half of the game on the bench in the blowout loss to the Pacers. He only managed to score 13 points in the 21 minutes he played, but he was able to snag 10 rebounds and get his double-double for the game. In this game, his shooting was exceptionally mediocre; he shot 3-12 from the field and was 2-6 from the 3-point line.

Wembanyama may not have played as much due to how poorly his team was performing on defense. They allowed 44 points just in the 1st quarter, and the game did not go much better after that. Back-to-back games will tire out a team no matter who they are, but Spurs fans are still expecting more from their team than a 152-111 blowout.

Wembanyama cannot be expected to put the team on his back and turn the Spurs into a winning organization by himself, but it seems that the pressure on him to do so still exists. It will take a lot more than just Wembanyama to take the Spurs to long-term victory, the management of the team needs to improve overall, but selecting Victor Wembanyama is a step in the right direction.

The main concern…he may get injured.

It seems that in the NBA, the taller you are, the higher your risk for injury is. NBA fans saw Chet Holmgren in his rookie season get injured and sidelined for the rest of the year. Ankle and knee injuries are very common in 7-footers in the NBA, but Wembanyama is taking precautionary measures to try to ensure that this doesn’t happen to him. He has a specialized routine to stretch and take care of his body, and fans can hope to see him on the team in the distant future, healthy, and helping the team win.

Even in a game that was considered to be bad in almost every way for the Spurs, Wembanyama managed to have a double-double in his limited minutes. He is still a rookie but is defensively playing like a star already. He has 18 blocks through 7 games, and will only progress and get better throughout his career. The future is bright for him and the Spurs, and he is sure to make an enormous impact in the league.

About the Contributor
Sam Maney
"Sports is life" -Sam