The anomaly that is Victor Wembanyama's rookie season

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Lakers
San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Lakers / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

On June 22, 2023, the San Antonio Spurs selected a 7-foot-4, 210-pound French phenom by the name of Victor Wembanyama with the first overall pick in the NBA draft. Fast forward to March 10, 2024, and he's already looking like he will be the face of the league in about 2–3 years.

Wembanyama is averaging 20.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.3 steals, and a whopping 3.4 blocks on 46.9/33.5/81.5 shooting splits in 56 games played this season. However, those stats have not translated to wins, as the Spurs own the third-worst record in the league at 14-50.

They entered the league as the youngest team in the NBA and are even younger now as they traded away two veteran players at the trade deadline, so the bad record is not on Wemby nor does this mean he's putting up empty stats.

Victor Wembanyama is having a historic rookie season.

Nonetheless, his rookie stats are historic. Wemby sits in the top-25 all-time in points per game and rebounds per game, and is one of 11 rookies in NBA history to average a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds.

But what's more impressive is his league-high 3.4 blocks per game—one of only seven rookies in NBA history to average at least 3 blocks per game, with Shawn Bradley in 1993–94 being the latest rookie to do so. It's also the highest blocks per game average since Hassan Whiteside averaged 3.7 blocks in 2015-16.

Along with those historic averages have come historic single-game statlines. On Feb. 24, he logged a 5x5 statline of 27 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, five steals, and five blocks against the Los Angeles Lakers—the youngest player to record such a statline and just the 15th player in NBA history to record a 5x5 game.

What's funny about this stat is that he almost did the same thing the night prior, when he logged 19 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, five steals, and five blocks against the Sacramento Kings, falling one assist shy of putting up back-to-back 5x5 games as a rookie. However, he became the second player in league history with back-to-back games with five blocks and five steals, along with Michael Jordan.

That's not all, though. On Feb. 13, about 10 days prior to the near 5x5 statline, Wemby poured in 27 points, 14 rebounds, 10 blocks, and five assists. He joined Hall of Famers David Robinson and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players in NBA history to post such numbers in a game in over 40 years. And on Dec. 8, he recorded a 21-point, 20-rebound game, joining Dwight Howard as the only teenager in league history to record such a stat.

Yes, numbers certainly don't lie, but Wemby also passes the eye test. He showcases one-to-two highlights a night that nobody else in the league can do, certainly not at his size. Whether it's his smooth-looking jump shot, barely needing to jump to block players, his smooth yet natural ball handling ability, or the ability to hit jumpers off the dribble at both the mid-range and from three (41 percent on pull-up threes), his skillset is very unique compared to the rest of the league, regardless of size. But then you add in the fact that he's 7-foot-4 and he's a walking 2K create-a-player.

Victor Wembanyama came into the NBA with the highest of expectations for his rookie season and has surpassed them in great fashion. Doesn't this sound familiar? Oh yeah, it's similar to what LeBron James had to endure early into his NBA career, and he's now arguably the greatest basketball player of all time. So let's not take what we're witnessing for granted.