NBA Rookie of the Season: Wembanyama Surpasses Holmgren To Get The Award

There were plenty of stories to follow throughout the 2024 NBA Season. Would NBA voters right their wrong from last year and name Nikola Jokic the MVP, who according to Denver sports betting odds should have been the receiver of the award?

Could the LA Lakers prove that their run to the Western Conference Finals wasn’t a fluke? How would the Bucks fare with the addition of Damian Lillard but the loss of their defensive general Jrue Holiday?

As exciting as those stories and others were, the focus of the 2024 season was on the San Antonio Spurs rookie, Victor Wembanyama. Not to be outdone in the Rookie of the Year race would be Wemby’s doppelganger in Oklahoma City, Chet Holmgren.

The hype surrounding the French “unicorn” with point guard skills, post-player height, and shooting guard range had not been seen since a young man from Akron, Ohio entered the league straight out of high school. While some will argue that he wasn’t officially a rookie due to being drafted last season, Holmgren was tabbed as the Thunder’s defensive anchor with a variety of offensive skills.

Tale of the Tape:

Victor Wembanyama – 7’4”, 210lbs, Power Forward / Center, San Antonio Spurs

Since the day he declared for the NBA Draft, the Rookie of the Year award was all but signed, sealed, and delivered to Wembanyama. Sure there was the off-season hype that gave a glimmer of hope to Portland’s Scoot Henderson, but that was quickly squashed in the pre-season.

Starting with his first official NBA game, Wembanyama set out to prove that he was no ordinary rookie, leading the woeful Spurs to a 3-2 record. In the fifth game of that early season stretch, Wemby dropped 38 points and 10 boards in a 132-121 victory over Kevin Durant and the heavily favored Phoenix Suns.

While there were nights that Wemby looked like a rookie, struggling against faster, stronger, more experienced players, there were other nights in which the 20-year-old was easily the best player on the court, which included his first triple-double of 16 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a 22 point blowout of the equally as woeful Detroit Pistons and a record-setting 27 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 steals and 5 block effort against the Los Angeles Lakers, becoming the youngest of fifteen players to accomplish a 5×5 stat line.

Shackled by the Spurs’ decision to load and manage their young star and the fact that San Antonio struggled to surround Wemby with complementary talent, this is likely the basement-level version of what the league will see from the French phenom going forward. With all due respect to Tre Jones and the point guard experiment that was Jeremy Sochan, Wembanyama needs a more elite floor general to run with.

Finishing with 21.4 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 3.6 blocks, Wembanyama received a unanimous 99 first-place votes in the Rookie Of The Year race and yet still has room for improvement moving forward.

Chet Holmgren – 7’1”, 208lbs, Power Forward / Center, Oklahoma City Thunder

Whether you agree or disagree that the 2023-24 season was Holmgren’s rookie year, the fact is that the Minneapolis, Minnesota native had an impressive season in his own right, earning all but one of the Second Place votes on the Rookie of the Year ballot.

After missing out on the 2022-23 season with a Lisfranc fracture, suffered during an appearance at the Jamal Crawford “Crawsover” Summer League, the Thunder’s prized rookie made his own impact on the league, helping OKC earn the top seed in the Western Conference. As with his rookie counterpart 466 miles away, Holmgren helped to anchor the team’s defense, swatting an average of 2.3 shots and pulling down 7.9 rebounds (6.3 on the defensive end).

Offensively, Holmgren provided Mark Daigneault with a floor spacer, capable of hitting shots from downtown or playing off the pick-and-roll/pop. Averaging 16.5 points per game, Holmgren appeared in every game this season and has been a big reason why the team has continued their regular season success into the playoffs.

While Holmgren may have missed out on winning individual honors during his first season, he is currently in the midst of a playoff battle, while Wembanyama and the Spurs are planning their next lottery selection. As great as Wembanyama was and should be going forward, Holmgren and the Thunder are far ahead on the track to an NBA championship.

Although there doesn’t seem to be any animosity between the two young stars (let’s be honest, there isn’t much in the NBA at all among players), the friendly rivalry, think of it as a modern-day Magic and Bird, sparked by fans and the media appear to be set to play out for many more years to come.

Chris Michael
Chris Michael
Chris Michael is a writer who delivers engaging and informative news on sports to readers of blogs, websites, newspapers, or magazines.



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