Spurs’ Victor Wembanyama’s historic 20-game start on par with some of greatest big men ever – cnn hollywood

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Victor Wembanyama is still a teenager, and he’s already made NBA history. After recording 21 points, 20 rebounds, four assists and four blocks in San Antonio’s loss to the Bulls on Friday, Wembanyama became the only player in history to tally at least 350 points, 50 assists, 50 blocks and 25 steals through the first 20 games of his career. 

Just as a point of comparison, here are Wemby’s numbers vs. some other great big men who began their career after steals and blocks became official stats in 1973. 

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FIRST 20 NBA GAMES

POINTS

ASSISTS

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STEALS

BLOCKS

VICTOR WEMBANYAMA

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380

51

26

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54

SHAQUILLE O’NEAL

438

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31

18

81

DWIGHT HOWARD

215

28

17

37

DAVID ROBINSON

441

34

35

53

TIM DUNCAN

313

40

13

47

PATRICK EWING

389

37

20

43

HAKEEM OLAJUWON

382

27

18

50

While Wembanyama is the only one in this elite group of big men to surpass what is, to be fair, something of an arbitrary statistical filter for all four categories, you can see that he’s the leader in assists, which once were a far less common stat for big men to accumulate.

Wembanyama also falls below most of these guys in total rebounds, thought yet again, it’s a different game now with more perimeter defensive responsibilities for bigs. The responsibilities often leave them away from the basket come rebounding time. 

Shaq scored more and blocked almost 30 more shots through his first 20 games, which likely adds up to Wemby having 20 more assists and a handful more steals. 

Still, any way you slice it, Wembanyama’s total package is right there with any one of these guys, and we are talking about some of the greatest big men ever. 

For good measure, Wembanyama, at 19 years and 338 days old, is also the youngest player in history to post a 20-point/20-rebound game, surpassing Dwight Howard, who was 19 years and 342 days old when he did it back in 2005. 

Unfortunately, these numbers came in yet another Spurs loss — their 16th straight. They should be a better team than they have been to start the year. They have honest NBA talent. Their Jeremy Sochan point guard experiment has been rough, but still, this is not a team that should be losing at a rate like this, at least not this early in the year. 

Nonetheless, Wembanyama is phenomenal. He’s a borderline DPOY-level defender already, though he will not get real consideration for that award on a bottom-five defense. He’s shooting under 30% from 3, but that was predictable. Being a good shooter as a seven-footer and being an actually good shooter are two different things. 

Wemby can get there as a shooter. His stroke is pure. But even if he only becomes a capable shooter who doesn’t shoot consistently well, with his length, athleticism, timing and footwork alone, he’s so dominant that it won’t be long before he’ll be an MVP-level player.

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