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Setting Realistic Expectations for Victor Wembanyama’s Debut NBA Season

Victor Wembanyama is a reality-defying prospect. But his rookie season will need to stay tethered to actuality.

A towering 7-foot-4 with an 8-foot wingspan. Shoes more than double the size of an average person. Hands that look like they could nearly wrap around the basketball.

These are the descriptors of a Marvel supervillain, something out of mythos or San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama.

Most simply, Wembanyama’s measurements and play-style defy everything we’ve seem before from a basketball perspective. Each time watching him extend for a block or crossover for a 3-pointer is a time-warping experience. We’re transported somewhere to the near future.

Despite that, Wembanyama’s first season in the league will likely be more tethered to reality than we’re expecting.

Being an NBA rookie is hard. Much less being one than is going to have near-100 percent of attention from the opposition and media all season long.

So, what are realistic expectations for the frenchman’s first NBA season?

The scoring, while certainly set to come in bunches, might not be as eye-popping efficiency-wise as previously thought. Despite his perimeter-adjacent style, Wembanyama is still very much a project shooter. If he’s left to open catch-and-shoot threes, he’ll likely see solid numbers. But being the focal point of the upcoming Spurs team will leave him a longer leash to experiment. And while, developmentally, that’s absolutely the right move for all parties, it isn’t likely to lend itself to high-efficiency outings.

Inside, Wembanyama is going to make his money and then some. But the interior defensive presence of the NBA will be felt, certainly.

Defensively is where most of his impact should carry over.

While the Spurs might not be set to plant Wembanyama in the paint game after game, he should still see plenty of blocks and steals via his smothering presence from near anywhere on the court.

Still, he’s likely not going to lead the league in blocks in year one. Nor should he be relied on to do so. While 2022 rookie Walker Kessler made a strong case just last season, finishing fourth overall in blocks with 173, Wembanyama may take more time to adjust being younger with less refined defensive instincts.

Other stats like rebounds, steals, assists and more, are certain to come with him being the epicenter of San Antonio basketball. But might not live up to the immediate star-level that some have in mind.

All this to say, Wembanyama is rightfully projected to win the league’s Rookie of the Year Award. And for all intents and purposes slated to be a generational player down the line. But with that comes expectations. Ones that potentially need to be tempered as the season quickly approaches.

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