Monday, April 15, 2024
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Spurs’ Victor Wembanyama makes 5×5 history as his rookie season continues to exceed hype

Victor Wembanyama is something, man. At 20 years old, I already have him as one of the best 25 players this season. Even if you disagree with that ranking, there’s no disputing how incredible he’s been for the Spurs as a rookie. 

It’s not even March, and Wembanyama is already the first player in history to record 150 blocks, 150 assists, and 75 made 3-pointers in a single season. Just before the All-Star break, Wembanyama carded 27 points, 14 rebounds, 10 blocks, five assists and two steals against the Raptors on 71% shooting. No other player in history has met those single-game benchmarks. 

Now, in his second game coming out of the All-Star break, Wembanyama has become the youngest player ever – and just the 15th in total – to join the exclusive 5×5 club, which requires the recording of at least five points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks in a single game. 

He did it on Friday night in a loss to the Lakers … in the fewest minutes ever. 

The last player to record a 5×5 game was Jusuf Nurkic in 2019. The only other rookie to pull it off was Jamaal Tinsley in 2001. 

What’s crazy: Wembanyama missed a 5×5 game by just one assist on Thursday, posting 19 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks, five steals and four assists against the Kings

Think about that. Only 14 other players in history have pulled this off, and this dude, a 20-year-old rookie, nearly did it on consecutive nights. He joined Michael Jordan as the only player in history to even record five blocks and five steals in back-to-back games, and yet, all he’s concerned with is the outcome of the games, neither of which went in San Antonio’s favor. 

Wembanyama entered the NBA as the most hyped rookie since LeBron James. It seemed impossible that he could live up to the hype immediately. Somehow, he’s actually exceeding it. 

He leads the league in blocks, on pace to become the first rookie since Manute Bol in 1986 to do so. Since the Spurs did away with the Jeremey Sochan point guard experiment and started playing Wembanyama at center, he has exploded. 

Since the start of January, a stretch of 23 games, Wemby is averaging just under 23 points and 10 boards with 3.7 assists, 3.4 blocks and 1.7 steals. He’s shooting 49 percent, including 35 percent from 3 on over five attempts per game. He is doing this in barely 27 minutes per game, which is pure insanity. 

Extrapolate those numbers to per 36 minutes, and Wemby’s ledger reads like this: 30.1 points, 13 boards, 4.9 assists, 4.5 blocks, 1.8 steals. Play this guy 36 minutes, and he is damn near averaging a 5×5 for crying out loud. 

There’s a strong argument to be made that Wembanyama is already the most intimidating defensive player in the league. When you add this kind of offense to it, well, as LeBron James said on Friday, “he doesn’t have a ceiling.”

“He can do whatever he wants in his career,” James said of Wembanyama. “…You got guys in our league that you have to account for any time you get around the rim or around the perimeter in our league history, and he sits right at the top, if not around the top, with all the greats.” 

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