Ever since Victor Wembanyama arrived in the NBA, much debate has ensued regarding the ideal position for the towering rookie. The overall opinion suggests that, given his status as the tallest player in the NBA, Wembanyama should naturally assume the role of a center. However, his distinctive guard-like skills and slender physique have prompted others to advocate for a forward position, particularly alongside a more robust center.
Among those endorsing the latter were the coaching staff of the San Antonio Spurs, who initially placed the rookie at power forward alongside Zach Collins at center for the first two months of the season. However, a significant shift occurred on December 8th when Coach Popovich altered the starting lineup, relegating Collins to the bench and elevating Wembanyama to the center position. This strategic move proved to be a game-changer, unleashing an enhanced version of the rookie’s performance.
New Kram Session, featuring:— Zach Kram (@zachkram) January 17, 2024
- Concerns about Dejounte Murray as a deadline difference maker
- Wembanyama's ridiculous stats at center
- Jabari Smith Jr.'s under-the-radar developmenthttps://t.co/5v0X9lpfiz
In a recent article, Zach Kram from The Ringer delved into the transformative impact of this lineup adjustment on Wembanyama’s game. Kram’s analysis meticulously compared Wembanyama’s per 36 statistics at power forward versus center, revealing marked improvements across all major categories, with steals being the sole exception. Playing at center not only afforded the rookie more opportunities to penetrate the rim but also benefited from the presence of a true point guard, Tre Jones, who started alongside him during this pivotal stretch.
Kram’s argument emphasizes the historical significance of the rookie’s dominance over the last month:
For the Spurs, this season has been a vital exploration of Wembanyama’s true potential and a quest to determine the most effective way to build a roster around him. With the lingering question about his position now definitively answered, Wembanyama has asserted himself as a force to be reckoned with at the center position for years to come.
Wemby is setting the pace on the rookie ladder, and rightfully so. His recent stellar performances have solidified his position, and I anticipate he’ll maintain his grip on it for the foreseeable future. Let’s finish the month with a strong push to secure his first well-deserved Rookie of the Month award.
https://t.co/wWGNmWnCY9’s updated rookie ladder:— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) January 17, 2024
1. Victor Wembanyama
2. Chet Holmgren
3. Jaime Jaquez Jr.
4. Brandon Miller
5. Dereck Lively II
6. Brandin Podziemski
7. Keyonte George
8. Jordan Hawkins
9. Scoot Henderson
10. Ausar Thompson
Shifting our focus to rookie performances, a comparison of Victor’s stats with those of rookies from the last five seasons truly highlights how extraordinary he has been.
Victor Wembanyama is:— WembyMuse (@Wemby_Muse) January 18, 2024
2nd in PPG
1st in RPG
1st in BPG
10th in SPG
of any rookie in the past 5 seasons. pic.twitter.com/onG4MCId26
Behold the nightly dose of “Oh my god, how did Wemby do this!?” from Wednesday night at the Garden. I’m still puzzled as to why this wasn’t a three-point play.
It’s evident that the San Antonio roster needs improvement, as Wednesday night’s game served as a stark reminder, with Wemby carrying the majority of the offensive load.
Get Wemby some fkng help, good lord. pic.twitter.com/R8D0u6ntoK— Black Coffee (@DirtyHardMoney) January 18, 2024
Considering the team’s needs, why not pursue Trae Young? The All-Star point guard recognizes Victor’s potential and could be a key addition to unlock the rookie’s ultimate capabilities.
Remember when Wambanyama had foul troubles in his first NBA game against the Dallas Mavericks? Well, those days are long gone. The rookie now leads the league in blocks over personal fouls with an impressive +31 differential.