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Victor Wembayama is redefining shot-blocking in the NBA

The rookie shares his insights on the qualities that define a dominant NBA shot-blocker.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Entering 2024, the San Antonio Spurs’ rookie, Victor Wembayama, has emerged as a standout leader in blocks per game, averaging an impressive 3.1 blocks. Victor is looking at being the first rookie to lead the league in blocks since Manute Bol in the 1985-86 season. In his last post-game press conference of 2023, the rookie shed light on the attributes of a great shot blocker.

Wembayama quickly pointed out that shot-blocking goes far beyond your size and length, stating, “You can see a difference between talented shot blockers or guys who are long.” According to Vic, a talented shot blocker displays exceptional timing and reads the defensive effectively to position themselves for the block. Every instance a player deviates from their primary assignment to contest a shot, they’re taking a calculated risk. Therefore, the importance of pre-game preparation becomes evident; understanding the shooting strength of one’s matchup significantly influences defensive decisions.

Wemby proceeds to praise former Spurs guard Derrick White, with his impeccable timing and defensive reads as a formidable shot blocker. Despite standing at a modest 6’4”, White is widely recognized as one of the premier defensive guards in the NBA. Vic’s admiration for players of this calibre is evident through his understanding and respect for their skill sets.

Looking ahead to San Antonio’s next game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday, Wembayama anticipates a noteworthy defensive performance. This game marks his final outing as a teenager, potentially allowing him to tie for the record of most games with five or more blocks among teenagers.

Wemby’s midcourt steal leads to an electrifying move as he takes a single dribble before launching from the free-throw line, delivering a jaw-dropping slam. I can’t think of another player who could pull this off other than Giannis Antetokounmpo.

I’ve been consistently advocating for increased Tre Jones minutes alongside Wemby. Their combined playtime of 295 minutes this season places them 20th on the Spurs’ two-man splits.

For some fun, I stumbled upon a Wemby bingo that tracks his NBA achievements. It’s a dynamic card set to be updated as this rookie continues to leave his mark. Save it for future updates.