Random Thoughts About Victor Wembanyama After NBA’s Awards Handed Out

Victor Wembanyama’s memorable first season was capped off with a unanimous NBA Rookie of the Year Award. The Frenchman also finished second for the award given to the Defensive Player of the Year. Wembanyama entered his rookie campaign with the San Antonio Spurs with sky-high expectations and was able to live up to all of the hype.

-Although Wembanyama was challenged by Chet Holmgren in the race for the top rookie award, no one could legitimately argue that he deserved anything less than the unanimous recognition he ultimately received. Yes, Holmgren was efficient and his team was a lot more successful — but San Antonio’s latest generational rookie was too overwhelmingly dominant.

Wembanyama finished the season with averages of 21.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 3.6 blocks and 1.2 steals. He shot 46.5% from the floor, 32.5% from three-point range and 79.6% at the free throw line. I would argue he was even more impressive than those numbers suggest. He has all the markings of a two-way superstar going forward.

Considering that Wembanyama was an underdog for the Rookie of the Year Award for much of the season, it was great to see him end up reeling in every last first place vote. Remember, even Tim Duncan didn’t win this award unanimously (Ketih Van Horn somehow got three first place votes that season).

-If he can stay healthy, Wembanyama is going to win his share of Defensive Player of the Year Awards. It’s just a matter of time. In fact, he probably enters next year as the odds-on favorite to win the award.

Do I think he should have won it this season? Wembanyama had the best defensive season by a rookie I’ve ever witnessed. But, despite his greatness on that end, I can’t really complain about Rudy Gobert winning it. Being the best defender in the league as a rookie is nearly impossible. It takes time to learn tendencies and know what needs to be done in every situation. 

Wembanyama wasn’t perfect but I was still rooting for him to win it this year. Considering that Duncan never won a Defensive Player of the Year Award and David Robinson only won it once, it’s fair to say that legendary Spurs big men have a history of getting the short end of the stick when the DPOY voting is tabulated.

-Speaking of defense, it’s refreshing to see that it’s possible to win with defense once again in the NBA playoffs. The Minnesota Timberwolves might be the team to beat right now and that’s because they have the ability to dominate games defensively.

For a while, the NBA looked like it was turning into a flop-and-free-throw game. But, thankfully, the league is now allowing teams to play defense again — and that’s good news in South Texas because the Spurs have basketball’s top defensive prospect.

-Most of the feedback I’ve heard after publishing Spurs Big Board 1.0 has concerned defense. Specifically, there’s some speculation that San Antonio may shy away from Robert Dillingham due to his poor outlook as a defender — especially if he posts underwhelming  measurements at the combine.

But I also continue to hear from scouts about how perfect of a pairing Dillingham would be on offense next to Wembanyama.