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Wembanyama Watch: Big Man in the Big Apple

Wemby Mania heads to Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night as the league’s top rookie visits the Mecca for the first time. Before you make your NBA pick of the day on how Victor Wembanyama fares against the Knicks, let’s look at how he’s done over the past week.

First Back-to-Back

There’s never been a question of Wembanyama’s talent. His height isn’t going away. Those two things alone will make him supremely successful.

Wembanyama Watch: Big Man in the Big Apple
Victor Wembanyama #1 of the San Antonio Spurs | Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

The question mark we had going into the season was how he would adjust to particular aspects of the NBA world, one of which reared its ugly head early this week with the first back-to-back of Wemby’s career.

The giant from France played at home against Toronto on Sunday and then at Indiana on Monday. As we’ve noted before, his schedule in Europe never included stuff like that, as they traditionally take multiple days off between games.

Like so many before him, Wembanyama struggled on the back end of the double dip. So did his teammates, as the Spurs were rocked 152-111 by the Pacers, who scored 86 points in the first half.

Wembanyama finished with 13 points on 3-for-12 shooting, his worst effort from the floor so far. When making some NBA picks going forward, consider Wembanyama’s rest situation.

Block Party

To nobody’s surprise, the freakish talent continues to block plenty of shots. He posted a personal-best five in that loss to Toronto – including this one that showcased his remarkable extension – before getting another pair at Indiana.

That left him with 18 blocked shots coming into Wednesday, second only to Anthony Davis (23).

While the blocks are all well and good, and make for some fun highlight reels, they won’t do much to fix the Spurs’ woeful defense, which is a continuation of last season.

San Antonio gave up 123.1 points per game in 2022-23, nearly four points more than anyone else. That number has spiked to 125.9 this season, better than only Washington, which puts up the same resistance as a dry leaf on a windy day.

That’s not the company you want to keep, and that’s on Gregg Popovich to figure out. Wembanyama’s remarkable frame hasn’t done all that much, and you should keep in mind San Antonio’s defensive issues at the sportsbook. Since it’s the same problem the team had all of last season and seemingly hasn’t been fixed, it might impact your thoughts on future odds in NBA action.

First Trip to Manhattan

The Spurs will try to pick up the pieces by bringing Wemby to Madison Square Garden for the first time in a matchup that will have smart phones raised to the sky throughout mid-town Manhattan.

The Knicks present a tough matchup at this time for Wemby and his teammates. Sure, they’re only 3-4, but they’ve played the toughest schedule in the league according to several metrics and they’re coming off an impressive 14-point win over the new-look Los Angeles Clippers.

New York boasts a great shot blocker of its own in Mitchell Robinson, who helps anchor the East’s top scoring defense (102.4 points per game). Look for the Knicks to limit Wemby and cover the 10-point spread just fine.



Questions Of The Day

Will Victor Wembanyama finish as top scorer for the Spurs?

Perhaps, but our money is on Devin Vassell to narrowly beat him out. They’re tied right now at 19.4 points per game, but Vassell is shooting a career-high 53.7% and has been through the rigors of a full season before.

Will Wembanyama win Rookie of the Year this season?

Go to our NBA awards page, where you’ll see that Wembanyama is far and away the favorite for Rookie of the Year. He hasn’t done anything to suggest otherwise.

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