San Antonio Spurs prodigy Victor Wembanyama says he senses opponents feel “intimidation” when they face him after posting a triple-double of 27 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocks in a 122-99 win over the Toronto Raptors.
NBA draft first pick Wembanyama’s total represented the most blocks by an NBA player since Clint Capela in January 2021.
The 20-year-old joined Ralph Sampson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson as the only players to have recorded at least 25 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks in a game.
“Intimidation – I can see it happening,” Wembanyama replied when he was asked about the effect his performances are having on opposition players. “It’s getting harder to block shots – I had to make an extra effort because, less and less, people go at me.”
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Wembanyama has the most blocked shots in the NBA this season and became the first rookie with 150 blocks, 150 assists and 50 steals in a campaign since Tim Duncan in 1997/98.
Victor Wembanyama: NBA blocks feat puts me in ‘great company’
Alongside Artis Gilmore, Robinson – who achieved the feat nine times – is the only other Spurs player to have posted a triple-double with blocks, and Wembanyama said he is an admirer of the former center.
Robinson spent his entire career with Spurs between 1989 and 2003, being named the NBA Most Valuable Player in 1995 and winning the title in 1999 and his final season.
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“It’s before my time but since I’ve been with the Spurs, I’ve learned a little bit about him and watched a bit of tapes,” said Wembanyama.
“It’s great company to have my name next to him. It counts even more since it’s family, it’s from the Spurs.”
Wembanyama’s previous triple-double came against the Detroit Pistons on January 10, although he did not record any blocks alongside his haul of 16 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists on that occasion.
“We need to figure out how to attack and how to play against him,” said Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic, predicting that the 7ft 4in nemesis for his team on the night will star in the league for “15 years”.
“He is definitely a player who’s unique, with his size and shot-blocking ability. We’ve got to do a much better job of figuring out how to play against that.”