NBA Rookie of the Year ladder: Chet and Wemby trade blows, Ausar on the rise

The Rookie of the Year race features two clear frontrunners, but don't ignore the other rookies putting forth excellent all-around efforts.

Ausar Thompson, Monty Williams, Detroit Pistons
Ausar Thompson, Monty Williams, Detroit Pistons / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages
4 of 5

. . Forward | Spurs. Victor Wembanyama. 29. 2. Previous Rank — 2. 2. player. Victor Wembanyama

Victor Wembanyama officially put the NBA world on notice with a mesmerizing 38-point performance against the Phoenix Suns last Thursday. The San Antonio Spurs are a spunky 3-4, with multiple wins that can be attributed directly to Wembanyama's game-altering presence on both ends of the floor. He's on track, as expected, to become a truly elite No. 1 option sooner than later.

Wembanyama is tied with Thompson for the second-most stocks in the NBA. He has only appeared in seven games, averaging 1.3 steals and 2.6 blocks in 28.9 minutes. His 8-foot wingspan tends to cause more than a few problems for opposing offenses. He's a one-of-one rim deterrent, but he can also close out to 3-point shooters at record speed and erase passing lanes with a simple poke.

It's only a matter of time until Wembanyama is a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate. In fact, that "time" may be a few weeks from now. The numbers speak for themselves.

On the offensive end, it has been a slightly mixed bag relative to Wembanyama's sky-high expectations. He's averaging 3.6 turnovers to 1.7 assists, which isn't great. That's the one area where NBA physicality has clearly taken its toll. Wembanyama doesn't always handle a swarming defense well.

Otherwise, however, it's difficult to find many holes in Wembanyama's game. The 3-point shot is coming around (up to 32.4 percent) and he's basically impossible to cover one-on-one. He's flowing fluidly into movement jumpers all over the floor. He can face up and navigate tight spaces off the dribble. His jumper can't be blocked, or even really contested. Once he's within arm's reach of the rim, a lob is basically two free points. The Spurs are already getting bold with their attempted passes to Wemby near the basket.

For the season, he's averaging 19.4 points and 8.4 rebounds on .462/.324/.757 splits. He's going to have more nights like the Phoenix game, and the efficiency metrics will continue to trend up as Wembanyama gets more comfortable with his surroundings. He is the next face of NBA basketball. Let's call a spade a spade.