Gilbert Arenas says Stephen Curry and Nikola Jokic don’t have the ‘physical traits’ to be considered generational talents

Jesse Cinquini
4 Min Read
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

According to former Washington Wizards star guard Gilbert Arenas, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic are not generational talents because they lack the necessary “physical traits.”

However, Arenas believes San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama is generational.

“Steph is not a generational talent,” Arenas said when asked which NBA teams have won a title without a generational talent. “… Steph is not a generational — do you know what a generational — Wemby is a generational person. That is a generational talent. Generational means you can’t mimic it. … Can you mimic Magic Johnson? 6’9” point guard with the vision — no. You can’t mimic Shaquille O’Neal’s body. You can’t mimic f—— LeBron James. You can’t mimic Wemby.

“Those are generational — it only comes once every — there’s only five or six. Physical traits — physical traits is generational. Somebody like Giannis [Antetokounmpo] is tweakin’, right? Jokic is not a generational talent. He’s just a great basketball player. Curry was a great basketball player.”

Curry and Jokic are two of the most skilled basketball players in the game today. The former is widely regarded as the greatest shooter in the history of the sport, as he has 3,747 regular-season 3-pointers made to his name, the most of any player in league history by a wide margin.

For reference, Ray Allen ranks second behind Curry, but he has nearly 1,000 fewer 3s to his name at 2,973.

As for Jokic, his greatness lies in his ability to impact the game as a scorer, rebounder and passer at a high level. Despite the fact that he won’t turn 30 years old until next February, he has already racked up 18 playoff triple-doubles, the third-most of any player behind just James and Johnson.

On top of their individual accolades, teams led by Curry and Jokic have accounted for two of the four NBA titles won so far this decade. The Warriors beat the Boston Celtics in the 2022 NBA Finals to win the title, and Jokic’s Nuggets eliminated the Miami Heat in five games in the 2023 championship series to earn Denver its first title in franchise history.

But Wembanyama’s performance during his rookie season with the Spurs implies that he has the talent necessary to build a resume that’s comparable to Jokic’s and Curry’s one day. In 71 games played during the 2023-24 regular season, the Frenchman averaged a double-double of 21.4 points and 10.6 rebounds per game while also averaging a league-high 3.6 blocks per contest.

The Spurs still finished with the second-worst record of any team in the Western Conference at 22-60, but San Antonio’s poor record arguably was a testament to the lack of talent that surrounded Wembanyama in his maiden NBA season.

While Wembanyama’s physical traits may be unique compared to Curry’s and Jokic’s, there’s an argument to be made that both are also generational talents along with the 7-foot-4 big.

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Jesse is an aspiring sports journalist that has previously worked as a staff writer at SB Nation’s CelticsBlog and The Knicks Wall.