Why Wembanyama is NBA's DPOY

Why Victor Wembanyama is the NBA's DPOY

Victor Wembanyama is the NBA's greatest prospect since Lebron James. He isn't just a rookie sensation, he's a defensive force unlike anything the NBA has ever seen. With his size, mobility and uncanny instincts, the French prodigy has transformed the way teams approach the paint. Victor, not Rudy Gobert, should be the runaway favorite to win the 2024 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.

Let's dive deep into the statistics and explore why, despite his long odds, Victor Wembanyama is an outstanding bet to win the DPOY title.

Defensive Dominance

Wembanyama possesses the innate ability to affect every aspect of an opposing team’s offensive game. Even when he’s not directly involved in the action, the 7’4 Frenchman’s mere presence dissuades opponents from attacking the hoop, and often forces ill-advised shots or turnovers.

Wemby’s length, timing, and ability to quickly cover ground make him special. He may already be the Association's most threatening defender, terrifying opponents' who enter the lane. Few have the audacity to even test Wemby at the point of attack. Those that do are often left scratching their heads.

Wemby slides across the hardwood with the agility of a much smaller man. He seems to appear out of nowhere, often from across the paint to swat away opponent's shots from all angles. The French marvel moves like Mister Fantastic while awakening memories of King Kong, smacking shots out of the air the way Kong wallops planes around the Empire State building. Only this time, he's protecting the rim instead of a blonde bombshell.

He leads the Association in blocks (252) and blocks per game (3.6) and is third in defensive plus-minus (3.3). Opponents have shot just 45.8% with Wemby as their primary defender, 53% from within six feet of the basket, and 35% from three. Oh, and he's only getting better, averaging an insane 4.6 blocks and 1.5 steals per game since the All-Star break.

Gobert? Schmo-bert, get That Garbage outta here

Somehow, sportsbooks have given Rudy Gobert a massive advantage in the DPOY odds, at -3000 as of writing. He's already won the award on three separate occasions and would tie Ben Wallace and Dikembe Mutombo for the most in NBA history with another victory. Gobert's Minnesota Timberwolves are one game out of the Western Conference's top seed and lead the league in defensive rating (108.1). However, he has the privilege of playing with stout defenders in Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels and Naz Reid, and trails his compatriot in a multitude of individual statistics.

As described above, Wembanyama leads all players in blocks (252) and is 19th in steals (87). Many in the NBA world call these stocks (steals plus blocks) and the rookie demolishes Gobert with 134 more in this category.

To further illustrate the rookie sensations' defensive impact, San Antonio are 9.8 points per 100 possessions better defensively with the number one pick on the floor. Which ranks in the 97th percentile of all-time defenders per Cleaning the Glass. In essence, the Spurs go from an historically awful defense without Wemby, to a top-five unit with him on the floor. No player with more than 1,000 minutes on an NBA hardwood this season has had anywhere close to the same impact as Wembanyama. Gobert's Timberwolves are a modest 3.2 points per 100 possessions better with their tower of power on the court.

Furthermore, Dunks and Three's Estimated plus minus places Vic way ahead Rudy. Wembanyama's plus-4.2 points per 100 possessions not only dwarfs Gobert's 2.5, but also surpasses the likes of Kevin Durant (4.1) and Kristaps Porzingis (4.0).

There's also the fact that Gregg Popovich and the Spurs staff truly didn't understand what they had at the beginning of the season. Or, they wanted to ease the rookie in and play him at power forward for whatever reason. Wembanyama began his career further from the basket, and has thus contested just 41.4% of opponents' shots at the rim when he's on the floor. In contrast, Gobert has contested nearly 50%. Yet, "The Extraterrestial" (someone's gotta get the man a better nickname) leads the NBA in blocks, blocks per game, and block rate by an insane margin.

How To Bet on Victor Wembanyama

Wemby's been so dominant, the NBA Rookie of the Year odds are long off the board. The 2023 NBA Draft first overall pick leads all rookies in scoring, rebounds, and player efficiency rating. He became the first rookie since Shaq to post a 40-point and 20-rebound game. Not to mention his 21 games with at least five blocks, which sits fifth in rookie history behind names like Manute Bol, David Robinson, Alonzo Mourning, and Shaquille O'Neal. In fact, only Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon (you get where this conversation is going when I list off five of the greatest centers in NBA history) have matched Wemby's rookie numbers of 3.6 blocks and 1.3 steals per game.

Astonishingly, over the last 15 games, the Spurs defensive rating with Wembanyama on the court is 106, which would top the NBA by over two points per 100 possessions. He makes an undeniable impact outside of the paint too. As Wemby's 3.5 deflections per 36 minutes rank second among all centers, and dominate Gobert's 1.7. This section is supposed to be about how to bet on the wunderkind, and I can't stop writing about his otherworldly influence on the hardwood.

Voters need to take all of this account while submitting their ballots. Sure, team success is one thing, but this isn't the MVP award. Wemby will have plenty of time to win those too! The 2024 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award should go to the most impactful defender in the Association, and that's Victor Wembanyama by a landslide. Some voters, like The Ringer's Bill Simmons and Ryen Russillo have already insinuated they'll be betting on the rookie to deservedly take home the award. Take note and bet on Victor Wembanyama to win Defensive Player of the Year at +1000 odds.


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