(The data in this post was compiled through 1/30/24)
One area of Victor Wembanyama’s game I find fascinating are his blocks. Beyond the fact that he leads not just rookies but the entire league in blocks, the most mind-blowing stat I came across in my research regarding his chances at Rookie of the Year is that he could actually be racking up more.
The chart below plots all players who have played at least 500 minutes this season and compares their number of contested shots vs. blocks. I have included Wemby’s stats for the season as well as his splits while he was at the 4 vs. the 5 spot in the lineup. I also included labels for players who rank in the top 5% in either blocks or contests.
The only player to average more blocks per 36 minutes this season is Walker Kessler, who has taken a step back offensively compared to his rookie year last season but has improved his numbers on the defensive end. However, if we only look at Wemby’s numbers since starting at center, he takes the cake. It is utterly insane far how ahead he is when it comes to the pace at which he blocks shots. Just compare it to the flip side, where Dwight Powell and San Antonio’s very own Zach Collins contest a lot of shots but struggle to come up with blocks.
At Victor’s current rate, if he was able to get over 15 contests per 36 minutes (similar to Chet, Kessler, and Lopez), he would have an estimated 5.48 blocks per 36 minutes. Given his current minute allotment, that would take him from 3.2 blocks per game to 4.26! The only other players with over 4 blocks per game in the modern era are Dikembe Mutombo, Hakeem Olajuwon, Manute Bol, and Mark Eaton.
While we can be salty about the lack of respect for what Wembanyama is achieving this year, in the end, even he has expressed his importance to simply just be the best he can be. There are plenty of hall-of-fame players who have multiple championships that weren’t rookie of the year. I also think rings, MVPs, and all-NBA teams are going to be the awards he is more focused on. So don’t be shocked if, as mentioned in my previous post, they pick Chet for ROTY for an arbitrary reason, it merely acts as fuel for the fire and this is just the beginning for the breathtaking performances from Victor Wembanyama. And possibly some Defensive Player of the Year awards as well.