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Wemby Watch: The numbers behind a historic season

Julian Catalfo / theScore

Victor Wembanyama was named the 2023-24 NBA Rookie of the Year on Monday.

With all due respect to the other eligible candidates, the San Antonio Spurs phenom's win was the most obvious and certain of the seven end-of-year individual awards.

In previous instalments of Wemby Watch, we tracked the Frenchman's progress after 10 games (click here) and at the All-Star break (click here). This time, we're going to focus on the numbers that set him apart.

Here are some standout stats and notable numbers from Wembanyama's stellar rookie campaign.

A unanimous Rookie of the Year

Chet Holmgren of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Brandon Miller of the Charlotte Hornets, and others had noteworthy rookie seasons, but Wembanyama was on another level in 2023-24.

He led all rookies in three of the five major statistical categories and finished second in steals and fourth in assists. No rookie in NBA history had previously finished top four in all five categories.

Wembanyama also finished first among rookies in total steals (88) ahead of per-game leader Amen Thompson of the Houston Rockets (78).

While Holmgren was justifiably in the award discussion for parts of the season, Wembanyama's impressive and rapid improvement was ultimately the deciding factor.

Here are 10 major statistical categories and how Wembanyama fared in each month of his rookie year:

His increased minutes in March and April are a factor, although Wembanyama also put up All-Star caliber numbers in January in just 26.7 minutes per outing. His 29.7 minutes per game (in 71 total appearances) represented the 79th-highest average in the league this season.

Wembanyama recorded 43 double-doubles - good for 10th in the entire league, 20 more than Holmgren, and more than the entire rookie class combined. He was the only rookie to record a triple-double this season (he did it twice) and fell just two assists and a block short of notching the fifth quadruple-double in NBA history versus the Denver Nuggets on April 2.

A comparison with the best-ever rookies

A glance at Wembanyama's debut season in the context of the NBA's all-time greatest immediately reveals one thing: There have been some absurd rookie campaigns.

Before comparing Wembanyama's season to others from the past, it's important to make a distinction between the modern NBA and the pre-ABA-NBA merger of 1976. Players like Wilt Chamberlain (37.6 PPG, 27 REB, MVP award) Oscar Robertson (30.5 PPG, 10.1 REB, 9.7 AST), Kareem-Abdul Jabbar (28.8 PPG, 14.5 REB, 4.1 AST; then known as Lew Alcindor), and Wes Unseld (second rookie to win MVP) all averaged around 40 minutes a game in a vastly different league.

As cited above, finishing top four in all five major categories among rookies puts Wembanyama in rarefied air, but how does his season compare to other standouts? Here's a sortable chart featuring Wembanyama and a dozen other notable post-merger rookie seasons.

At this juncture of Wembanyama's career, he's making his greatest contributions at the defensive end. This season, he led the entire league in blocks and became the youngest player ever to accomplish that feat. He also compiled the third-most blocks by a rookie in NBA history and became the first rookie with 300-plus stocks (blocks plus steals) since Shaquille O'Neal.

Wembanyama became just the 15th player in league history and the youngest ever to record the elusive 5X5 when he logged 27 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, five steals, and five blocks in 31 minutes against the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 23.

He also recorded the first-ever season with 1,500-plus points, 250-plus blocks, and 100-plus made 3-pointers in NBA history - not just by a rookie. The 20-year-old is only scratching the surface of his unique skill set.

Other standout stats

1: No other player in NBA history - rookie or otherwise - has averaged 20 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, three blocks, one steal, and one made 3-pointer in a season.

2: Wembanyama authored two games with at least seven blocks and seven assists. No one else did it once this year.

3.6: His 3.6 blocks per game were more than the entire Miami Heat (3.4) roster managed this season.

4: He was fourth worldwide in licensed NBA jersey sales behind Steph Curry, LeBron James, and Jayson Tatum.

8: Wembanyama recorded at least five blocks and five assists in eight games. The rest of the NBA did that in 12 games total this season.

10: His 10 games with five-plus points, five-plus rebounds, five-plus assists, and five-plus blocks are the second-most in a season in NBA history (David Robinson had 13 in 1993-94).

20x20: His 21-point, 20-rebound display versus the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 8 made Wembanyama the youngest player in league history to post a 20x20 game (19 years, 342 days).

342: He led the NBA with 254 blocks. Combined with total steals to make stocks, Wembanyama's 342 total dwarfed second-place finisher Anthony Davis (264). No other player in the league had more than 200.

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