Anonymous NBA executive says Victor Wembanyama will be best defensive player of all time

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Victor Wembanyama entered the NBA as one of the most hyped rookies ever, and the shower of superlatives has not slowed down at all, with one anonymous executive saying the San Antonio Spurs phenom will be the best defensive player of all time.

The 20-year-old leads the league in total blocked shots (171) and blocks per game (3.3) in his first NBA campaign. He also is in the top 20 in steals per game (1.3).

Though it has not paid off in wins for the Spurs — they have won just one of their past 12 games are 11-47 heading into their contest Tuesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves — Wembanyama’s rookie season looks to be a resounding success.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft is averaging 20.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game in his 52 appearances. He recently became the youngest player ever to post a “5×5” stat line with 27 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, five steals and five blocks against the Los Angeles Lakers. The NBA began tracking steals and blocks in the 1973-74 season.

That performance allowed him to join Michael Jordan as the only players to ever have at least five steals and five blocks in consecutive games.

Performances like that on the defensive end could legitimately push Wembanyama into the discussion about the best defenders of all time. Some of the players considered in that group include Jordan, Bill Russell and Hakeem Olajuwon, with Kawhi Leonard an active player also arguably worthy of consideration.

Wembanyama’s offensive skills have also drawn some hyperbole as well. Former NBA champion Metta Sandiford-Artest said that the phenom is capable of scoring 101 points in an NBA game.

For now, the focus will be on whether Wembanyama can win NBA Rookie of the Year. He looks to be pulling away from Chet Holmgren of the Oklahoma City Thunder in competition for the prestigious award. The two are in line to face each other on Thursday when the Thunder visit San Antonio.

With less than two months remaining in the NBA regular season, it will be interesting to see what Wembanyama can accomplish before his historic first campaign ends.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has focused on New York sports. He has covered the NBA and NFL for almost three decades and is still waiting for the next championship for the Knicks and Jets.