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Spurs star Victor Wembanyama wins NBA Rookie of the Year

The 7-foot-4 French center averaged 21.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.6 blocks per game in his first season.
Victor Wembanyama basketball NBA rookie of the year award recipient uniform
San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama in the first half against the Memphis Grizzlies in Memphis, Tenn., on April 9.Brandon Dill / AP file

San Antonio Spurs star Victor Wembanyama entered the NBA with the most hype of any player since LeBron James in 2003. And he’s lived up to every bit of it. 

Wembanyama, a 20-year-old center, took home the league’s Rookie of the Year award Monday after he averaged 21.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 3.6 blocks, 1.8 3-pointers and 1.2 steals a game. No player in NBA history had averaged more than those combined figures before. He is the first player with at least 1,500 points, 700 rebounds, 250 assists, 250 blocks and 100 made 3-pointers in a season.

Wembanyama beat out Chet Holmgren of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Brandon Miller of the Charlotte Hornets for the honor. He received all 99 first-place votes from a media panel to become the first unanimous NBA Rookie of the Year since Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns in 2016.

He joins David Robinson (1990) and Tim Duncan (1998) as the only Spurs players to win the award.

"My goal is always to have my team the best that I could and get better as the year went on," Wembanyama said on TNT following the announcement. "I knew that in order to do this, I had to be individually good on the court and dominant. It was a huge thing for me and a big thing to get. It’s always been really important, and I’m glad it’s finally official."

Wembanyama, a 7-foot-4 French native, is also a finalist for NBA Defensive Player of the Year with Rudy Gobert of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat. That award will be announced Tuesday night.

Image: San Antonio Spurs v Memphis Grizzlies game uniform NBC rookie of the year award
Victor Wembanyama of the San Antonio Spurs against Trey Jemison of the Memphis Grizzlies in Memphis, Tenn., on April 9.Justin Ford / Getty Images file

Wembanyama’s efforts this season may have been overlooked based on San Antonio’s lack of success. Despite his impressive accolades, the Spurs ended the season 22-60 — the same as the previous season. That record puts them 14th out of 15 teams in the Western Conference, just one game better than the Portland Trail Blazers. 

But Wembanyama’s immense potential is enough to predict a bright future for the franchise. His ability to dribble, shoot, pass and defend at his towering size make him like no other player in basketball today. It’s why top free agents are expected to consider San Antonio in the coming years based partly on the chance to team up with a budding superstar. 

The Spurs also entered the season with the youngest roster in the NBA, at an average age of 23.52 years old. With continued development from those players and the right additions this offseason, San Antonio could go from rebuild to contender in quick fashion.

Wembanyama said he still isn't satisfied with where he is in his career and plans on improving.

"There’s plenty of stuff I plan on working on," he said on TNT. "Physically, of course, the work is never going to be done. I’m going to keep discovering new ways to get better and to work on my body. For basketball, there’s a lot I want to work on. ... A big thing I can tell you is I’m already working on my balance and the use of my strength."