Spurs' Victor Wembanyama named NBA Rookie of the Year after a record-setting season

Victor Wembanyama had a year like no rookie in NBA history.

Others scored more points, others grabbed more rebounds, others had more blocks, others made more steals. But never had there been a player who, in Year 1 of his career, posted all these averages — at least 21.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 3.6 blocks and 1.2 steals per game.

Until now.

The long-expected result became reality on Monday, when the Spurs’ star from France was announced as the NBA’s rookie of the year. He’s the third San Antonio player to win the award, joining David Robinson in 1990 and Tim Duncan in 1998 — both of whom, like Wembanyama, were No. 1 overall picks and instantly anointed as centers who would lead the Spurs to greatness.

Oklahoma City’s Chet Holmgren and Charlotte’s Brandon Miller were the other finalists for the award.

“Leading rookies in most categories and leading the league in blocks, I’m pretty proud of this,” Wembanyama said when the season ended.

Wembanyama became the first international winner of the award since Dallas’ Luka Doncic in 2019 and the fifth such winner in the last 10 seasons. Andrew Wiggins (Canada) won in 2015, Karl-Anthony Towns (Dominican Republic) won in 2016, Ben Simmons (Australia) won in 2018 and Doncic followed the next season.

Wembanyama became just the fourth player, and first rookie, to finish a season with at least 1,500 points, 250 assists and 250 blocked shots. The others: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it five times, Hakeem Olajuwon did it twice and Robinson did it twice. Nobody had done it since 1993-94, when Olajuwon and Robinson both had such a season.

The rookie award may be the start of a big week for Wembanyama, who will be in the top three finishers for Defensive Player of the Year as well. That award gets announced Tuesday, with Minnesota’s Rudy Gobert and Miami’s Bam Adebayo the other finalists.

The NBA will reveal the MVP — either Denver’s Nikola Jokic, Dallas’ Luka Doncic or Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — on Wednesday.


AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba

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