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Victor Wembanyama and the dreaded Rookie Wall

The rookie is gaining firsthand the difficult challenges of the rodeo road trip and NBA schedule as a whole. 

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The rodeo road trip has taken a toll on everyone within the Spurs organization, and even rookie sensation Victor Wembanyama hasn’t been immune from it. While he dominated in January with impressive averages of 24 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks per game, February has seen a dip in his performance. Currently, he’s averaging 17.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game. Unfortunately, the team is also grappling with a seven-game losing streak. Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express News recently delved into these struggles in a compelling article.

Drawing a parallel between Wemby and the protagonist in the latest Stephen King novel that the rookie is immersed in is a clever analogy. Both individuals are navigating through challenging quests, making the comparison apt. However, what caught my attention in Orsborn’s piece was a particular statistic.

“Wembanyama finished last Saturday’s 123-103 loss at Brooklyn with just four rebounds after recording only one in a 127-111 loss at Orlando last Thursday. In the first half against the Nets, he failed to register a rebound, assist, block and steal in the first half, marking the first time in a half he got shut out in each category.”

We’ve witnessed Wemby’s brilliance on the court, whether with or without the ball. His impact goes beyond merely scoring points. However, in his last game, in Brooklyn, he recorded zeros across the board at halftime in rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks.

This may indicate that Victor is hitting the infamous rookie wall. His heavy workload throughout the season, coupled with the grueling road trip, could be taking a toll on his performance. The road trip’s demanding schedule, coupled with challenges in recovery and sleep, may contribute to this slump.

It’s possible that the Spurs are placing a considerable burden on the 20-year-old’s shoulders, making him the highest-usage rookie of all time. Yet, for the most part, he has risen to the occasion. As the road trip progresses northward, the team faces the Toronto Raptors on Monday night – an opportune moment for the rookie to bounce back and rediscover the pep in his step.

Despite facing a challenging period, the rookie has made significant strides in his three-point shooting. If he can maintain a mid-30s percentage in hitting the deep ball, it could pose a serious threat to the rest of the league.

His growing confidence beyond the arc is evident in his willingness to attempt shots like these:

Watching videos of the Frenchman warming up is always a treat; his handles are exceptional for a player of his height.

Considering Wemby’s skill set, it wouldn’t be surprising to discover he’s also into chess.