10 games into the young NBA season, Victor Wembanyama looks like the real deal. If everything goes according to plan, Wembanyama could run away with the Rookie of the Year award by season’s end. However, that’s not the only individual award for which the French rookie is in the running.
According to Bovada, the seven-foot-five San Antonio Spurs forward has the second-best odds of winning Defensive Player of the Year. That’s only behind Rudy Gobert, and ahead of guys like Evan Mobley, Jaren Jackson, Jr., and Anthony Davis.
Besides the players mentioned, it’s notable that defensive stalwarts such as Bam Adebayo, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Draymond Green are nowhere to be seen.
Has Wemby Become Overrated?
As a rookie, Wembanyama gained himself much following. But is he that good of a defender to warrant a DPOY consideration? Well, at his height and length (eight-foot wingspan and nine-foot-seven standing reach), he can do almost humanly impossible things.
The counting stats also confirm the eye test. As of this writing, Wembanyama is second in the league in total blocks and has 11 total steals.
But then again, his defensive impact is not showing in the win column. The Spurs are among the West’s cellar-dwellers. San Antonio is also 29th in Defensive Rating and has a league-worst -11.3 net rating. In other words, stopping people poses a challenge for them, and they suffer blowouts in losses.
Meanwhile, the other names in the race have done far more than Wembanyama on the defensive side of the ball. Gobert anchors Minnesota’s top-five defense, while Anthony Davis leads the league in blocks. Jrue Holiday, who is not in the DPOY conversation, has transformed Boston into a top defensive team. On top of that, the Miami Heat’s Adebayo is the very definition of defensive versatility.
Of course, the 19-year-old has the physical tools to make a run at the DPOY in the future. He has shown glimpses of what he can do, but figuring it out on the defensive end as a rookie is a tall task, even for Wembanyama. It will be a long shot for him to win DPOY this year; for instance, NorthStar Bets has Wembanyama tied for the eighth-best odds to win the award. However, NBA fans should expect his name to be in the thick of the conversation going forward.