Victor Wembanyama Breaks Another Record in ROTY Matchup vs. Chet Holmgren

The Spurs defeated the Thunder 132-118, as tonight featured a matchup of both 7-foot, Rookie of The Year candidates, who did not disappoint. Victor Wembanyama scored 28 points (9/17 FG, 5/7 3P), recorded 13 rebounds, seven assists, five blocks and two steals. Chet Holmgren had 23 points (8/12 FG, 1/4 3P), seven rebounds, five assists and one block.Victor Wembanyama, San Antonio Spurs, NBA

Just one week ago in a 118-123 loss vs. the Lakers, Wembanyama became the first player since 2019 to record a 5×5 game, as he had 27 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, five steals and five blocks. To point out, and to make it even more impressive, in the game prior (122-127 loss vs. Kings on February 22), the rookie was one assist away from reaching the 5×5 feat as well, and with both game performances he joined Michael Jordan as the only players to record five steals and five blocks in back-to-back games. 

After hearing about his record, Wembanyama was quoted as saying, “I wonder if (Michael Jordan) did it in wins, not losses. To me, it’s secondary… I can’t be satisfied with a loss.” Well to clarify, Jordan actually recorded eight steals and five blocks in a 102-98 win. vs. the Cavaliers, on the exact same day 37 years prior, February 22, 1987. Then the following game on February 24, Jordan had five steals and five blocks in a 113-103 win vs. the Hawks.

With this in mind, the Spurs actually got the win tonight in Wembanyama’s record-breaking performance, as he became the first player in NBA history with 25 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, five blocks and five three-pointers. Wembanyama just turned 20 years old, so it is safe to assume his name will be printed all over the record books as his career moves forward.

In the highly anticipated ROTY matchup, Holmgren came out of the gate early, and led all scorers with 17 points in the first half, nevertheless, Wembanyama came out firing in the second half, as he hit four three-pointers. Towards the end of the game, Wembanyama took over as he scored or assisted on eight points in a row down the stretch. To note, with 3:23 left in the game, Wembanyama sank a long-range shot, next on the following possession he assisted a Devin Vassell’s jump shot, then right afterwards the Frenchman hit another three-pointer on the left wing. Not to mention, during the next defensive possession, he blocked Holmgren’s jumpshot, which sealed the game.

The Spurs ended a five-game losing streak, as they had a season-high 39 assists and only 11 turnovers. Wembanyama and Vassell were the leading scorers for the Spurs tonight with 28 points each, while Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 31 and Jalen Williams had 26.

The comparisons between the 7-foot-4 Wembanyama and 7-foot-1 Holmgren have been tossed around before the season even started. That is to say, both players possess the same agility, playmaking and shooting ability that is rare to see in seven footers. After going first overall in the 2023 NBA draft, Wembanyama has not fallen short of the lofty expectations placed on him, as the rookie has averaged 20.6 points (46.6 FG%, 31.7 3P%), 10.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 3.3 blocks and 1.3 steals. Holmgren was the second overall pick in the 2022 draft, but is considered a rookie after missing his entire first year due to a foot injury. So far throughout the 2023-24 season, Holmgren has averaged 17.1 points (54.2 FG%, 40.1 3P%), 7.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.7 blocks and 0.7 steals. 

When viewing the players side-by-side, Wembanyama appears to have a slight edge in the ROTY conversation, as this was the third matchup between both candidates this year. In the three head-to-head matchups, Wembanyama has averaged 20 points, 13 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 3.7 blocks and 1 steal. While Holmgren has averaged 16.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1 steal. The Thunder lead the series vs. the Spurs (2-1), but both teams will have one more matchup vs. each other on April 10 at Oklahoma City.

With a loss tonight, the Thunder’s record is 41-18, as they now fall a game behind the first place Timberwolves in the Western Conference standings. On the other hand, the Spurs have improved to a 12-48 record, but still remain in last place in the West. With that being said, they can pat themselves on the back for now having victories over both the top two teams in the conference, Minnesota and Oklahoma City.

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