NBA Rookie of the Year ladder: Warriors' Brandin Podziemski surges into top 5

Golden State Warriors off-guard Brandin Podziemski has been a revelation for a team desperate to get back on track.

Brandin Podziemski, Golden State Warriors
Brandin Podziemski, Golden State Warriors / John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
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Victor Wembanyama. 29. Spurs. Victor Wembanyama. 2. 2. player. . . Center

The Spurs continue to lose games, but Victor Wembanyama shouldn't be penalized for the collective failure of his team. He is not blameless, but the front office, coaching staff, and supporting cast are more at fault. Wembanyama has struggled with efficiency (.440/.285/.790) in the grand tradition of rookies thrust into massive workloads, but Wemby is the Spurs' No. 1 weapon on offense and he is a singular defensive anchor.

Wembanyama, all of 7-foot-4 with an 8-foot wingspan, changes the geometry of the court on defense. He currently leads the NBA in blocks per game (3.2) while averaging a healthy 1.3 steals and 2.9 deflections per game, to boot. If the Spurs were even close to competent as a group, Wembanyama would have a serious Defensive Player of the Year case. And, he still has room to improve. Wembanyama needs to get more physical. He doesn't foul a lot, despite his slender frame and complex role.

On offense, it has been more of a mixed bag for Wembanyama. His usage is through the roof for a rookie big and he's prone to the superstar flashes we all expected (30 points on 14 shots in San Antonio's win over Portland on Dec. 28). Still, Wembanyama averages more turnovers (3.9) than assists (3.6) and his 18.8 points per game comes on 15.8 shot attempts. Wemby's 3-point shot has been erratic at best and he's stuck between roles. The Spurs need him to operate as a do-it-all superstar, but he would probably be more immediately comfortable with a legitimate perimeter star who can spoon-feed easy looks at the rim. The Spurs' lack of reliable point guard play outside of Tre Jones continues to plague Wembanyama.

He is struggling a little bit under the weight of expectations and the lack of viable infrastructure around him in San Antonio, but Wembanyama is flat-out special. He is appointment viewing and the Spurs should be able to improve the roster around him in the years to come.