UUA Sports >Football World >Kia Rookie Ladder: Another big month adds to Victor Wembanyama's lead

Kia Rookie Ladder: Another big month adds to Victor Wembanyama's lead


Victor Wembanyama finished with 47 blocks in February, more than the monthly total for 5 teams.

It’s going to be difficult for voters in the Kia Rookie of the Year race to put someone else’s name at No. 1, considering Victor Wembanyama’s assault on the NBA’s unofficial rookie record book.

For instance, in games against the Thunder and the Pacers in the past week, the 20-year-old Frenchman totaled 59 points, 25 rebounds, 13 assists and 11 blocks, while achieving this distinction.

Then there is Wembanyama’s efficiency in racking up such numbers, which is unprecedented even for non-rookies and Hall of Famers.

As for dominance in counting stats, notice how the 7-foot-4 phenom had as many or more blocked shots in February as seven entire NBA teams.

𝐑𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐢𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐌𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐡 𝐱𝟐 🔥

A look at Victor's @Kia ROTM February stats 🤯⤵️ pic.twitter.com/yX5YYuJrKN

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) March 4, 2024

No surprise then that Wembanyama retains his perch atop this week’s Kia Rookie Ladder.

Weekly Recap

• Well, it was a nice run. Fans in San Antonio got to enjoy Wembanyama for 61 games before ESPN did what ESPN loves to do, speculating about the young fellow’s distaste for losing in a way that hinted he soon might want to be playing elsewhere. There are, after all, bigger markets to cater to, and with the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Tyrese Haliburton and Anthony Edwards locked in contractually (and apparently) happy for now, somebody has to be next on the “Who might move?” list.

• The gap between No. 2 and No. 3 on the Ladder is more narrow at this point than Wembanyama’s unofficial lead over his nearest challenger. Chet Holmgren still ranks second for his play and his fit with Oklahoma City, but Charlotte’s Brandon Miller earned his second consecutive Rookie of the Month award from the East for a reason. Lots of them.

• From wood to aluminum: The Ladder firmed up a little more this week, with just over five weeks left in the regular season and no new rung-holders in this edition.

Storyline to watch

The snubbed vs. the Spur. Golden State’s Brandin Podziemski wasn’t pleased when the NBA’s Rookie of the Month results for February came out. Oh, he wasn’t bothered by Wembanyama getting the honor — he didn’t like being left off the list of other West nominees. Well, the kid from Milwaukee will get a double showcase now as Golden State faces the Spurs on Saturday in San Francisco and Monday in San Antonio. Drawing a charge on Wemby would be an obvious goal.

Latest rankings

(All stats through Tuesday, March 5)

Keep track of how our rookie rankings continue to evolve throughout the season.

1. Victor Wembanyama, San Antonio Spurs

Season stats: 20.7 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 3.4 bpgLast Ladder: No. 1Draft pick: No. 1

Just because San Antonio is 13-49 and is two games off last season’s pace through 62 doesn’t mean Wembanyama has had zero effect on winning basketball. He has had 19 games in which he has finished in the black in plus/minus, compared to the Spurs’ obvious 13. And his net rating also is positive at 8.3, based on a -4.3 for the Spurs when he’s on the floor vs. -12.3 when he’s off.

2. Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City Thunder

Season stats: 17.1 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.6 bpgLast Ladder: No. 2Draft pick: No. 2 (2022)

An up-and-down week for Holmgren. He had some highlights and reached 1,000 points faster than any previous OKC rookie. But his impressive plus/minus mark took a hit: -41 total as the Thunder went 1-2. Meanwhile, no rookie has played more games and he leads this crop in minutes logged (1,840).

I’m only at 61 straight, idk how Mikal does this every year😂 https://t.co/SxRrTEHlhx

— chet holmgren (@ChetHolmgren) March 5, 2024

3. Brandon Miller, Charlotte Hornets

Season stats: 16.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.4 apgLast Ladder: No. 3Draft pick: No. 2 overall

Notable week for Miller, averaging 21.7 points and 7.3 rebounds while taking 7.7 3-pointers and hitting 43.5% of them. Losing isn’t fun but the 6-foot-9, 201-pound wing also is working on longer-term goals.

4. Jaime Jaquez Jr., Miami Heat

Season stats: 12.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.6 apgLast Ladder: No. 5Draft pick: No. 18

Holmgren isn’t the only Ladder denizen whose rookie status (drafted in 2022, after all) has been questioned. Jaquez recently got that from teammate Bam Adebayo — in a good way, based on Jaquez racking up four years of college experience. “He’s not a regular rookie,” Adebayo said. “He’s well beyond his years, and we’re just gonna keep driving him to be who he is.”

5. Brandin Podziemski, Golden State Warriors

Season stats: 9.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.9 apgLast Ladder: No. 4Draft pick: No. 19

Knee soreness cost Podziemski the first two games of March, but he was cleared to face Milwaukee on Wednesday (10 ET, ESPN). Even when he was gone, his impact was not forgotten, notably on the Warriors’ defensive end.

The Next 5

6. Keyonte George, Utah Jazz

Season stats: 12.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 4.4 apgLast Ladder: No. 7Draft pick: No. 16

Scored 31 vs. Heat, but illness cut short (6 min.) game vs. Wizards.

7. Dereck Lively II, Dallas Mavericks

Season stats: 8.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.5 bpgLast Ladder: No. 6Draft pick: No. 12

Lessons coming before and in game vs. Pacers (scoreless, 1 reb.).

8. Cam Whitmore, Houston Rockets

Season stats: 12.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 0.5 apgLast Ladder: No. 8Draft pick: No. 20

Nineteen points in 20 minutes vs. Spurs bumps him to 25.4 per 36 minutes.

9. Ausar Thompson, Detroit Pistons

Season stats: 8.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.9 apgLast Ladder: T-No. 10Draft pick: No. 5

3FG% through January: 14.5%. Since Feb. 1: 28.6%.

10. Amen Thompson, Houston Rockets

Season stats: 7.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.3 apgLast Ladder: T-No. 10Draft pick: No. 4

Kerfuffle with Spurs’ Jeremy Sochan adds bonus chapter to debut season.

* * *

Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on X.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Warner Bros. Discovery.

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