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Wemby Watch: Victor Wembanyama vows to keep focus on winning as ROY race heats up

After securing his 1st win against Chet Holmgren and OKC, Wembanyama aims to continue the momentum for the final 22 games of the season.

Victor Wembanyama and the Spurs delivered a thrilling win at home against the Thunder after 26 days on the road.

Stay up to date on No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama during his rookie campaign with the San Antonio Spurs. A new Wemby Watch drops every Sunday during the season. Here’s what we saw this week:

ROY debate 🤔

Victor Wembanyama declined to declare the race over for Kia NBA Rookie of the Year, even after becoming the first player in NBA history to post 25-plus points, 10-plus rebounds, five-plus assists, five-plus blocks and five made 3-pointers in a game. He did that on Thursday in a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

“I don’t even ask myself whether this race is over or not because I want to win the games, and there are still 22 to go. So I have to keep performing,” Wembanyama said. 

Wembanyana generated a 2K-level stat line (28 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 blocks, 2 steals) in the third head-to-head matchup with fellow Rookie of the Year candidate Chet Holmgren. 

1-man highlight reel 🤯

From mind-boggling circus shots to logo treys, Wembanyama continues to leave fans scratching their heads with his unbelievable ability to score from just about anywhere on the court. 

Check out some of the Spurs rookie's best plays against the Jazz, Timberwolves & Thunder in latest weekly recap.

Bonus: While this didn’t go exactly as he planned, the self-lob attempt vs. the Timberwolves is certainly worth noting this week.

Work in progress ⏳

If you didn’t notice, the Spurs’ rookie played the entire fourth quarter Thursday and found himself digging deep late in that game to conjure the magic we ultimately saw on display down the stretch.

He’s played 34 and 32 minutes, respectively, in his last two contests heading into Sunday’s matchup against the Indiana Pacers (7 ET, NBA League Pass

“With my minutes increasing, I think I need a little bit of time to adapt to it,” Wembanyana said. “I was kind of struggling in the game. But at the end of the game, I hesitated to request a sub. I told myself to just lock in and get over it because eventually, I’m going to have to play those minutes.”

Wembanyama tallied eight points to go with three rebounds, three assists and two blocks as San Antonio outscored OKC 34-22 in the fourth quarter.

“I just stayed on the court and worked my a– off,” he said. “This is how I was feeling. I had to get over the struggles.”

On the court 🏀 

The Spurs suffered two losses to start off the week, closing out their annual Rodeo Road Trip with a record of 1-8 for the second consecutive season. The club hadn’t won a game since Feb. 12 (in Toronto) before Thursday’s triumph over the Thunder.

Since the All-Star break, Wembanyama is averaging 31.2 minutes on the floor after playing 28.4 minutes per game in the 49 contests prior to the break. Naturally, more minutes translated into more production for the 20-year-old.

He’s averaging 22.6 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 4.8 blocks in the five games post All-Star break. The rookie drained a season-high 41.3% of his attempts from 3-point range during February. Scary.

Home sweet home 🏡

Back in San Antonio for the first time in nearly a month, Wembanyama and the Spurs joined coach Gregg Popovich at the Champions Against Hunger Dinner on Friday night. 

The charity event is a collaboration between the Spurs and the San Antonio Food Bank, raising money for the fight against hunger. Wemby and his teammates took on roles as waiters and servers for the attendees at The Rock at La Cantera alongside Popovich. 

That of course came after the Spurs blessed a sellout crowd of 18,392 at Frost Bank Center with the thrilling 132-118 victory over the Thunder after 26 days on the road.

In the euphoric aftermath of the win, Wembanyama couldn’t help but drop an expletive that whipped up the crowd to crescendo.

“What I love is watching the reactions from my bench and the fans,” he said. “That’s what I look at when I watch the games afterwards and the highlights. I really feed off that. I love it; giving the fans pleasure, and even more seeing that my guys on the bench are happy.”

One stat to know 📊

We mentioned earlier that Wemby became the first player in league history to rack up 25-plus points, 10-plus rebounds, 5-plus assists, 5-plus blocks and five made 3-pointers Thursday against Oklahoma City.

That performance came six days after the French phenom became just the 15th player in NBA history to tally a 5×5 game and the first since 2019 when Jusuf Nurkic accomplished that feat. Wembanyama scored 27 points with 10 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 steals and 5 blocks on Feb. 23 in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

What’s becoming abundantly clearer by the day is that we can expect these types of performances for years to come from Wembanyama as he continues to improve. It’s just a matter of time before he becomes the second, third, and fourth player in NBA history to produce the stat line he posted Thursday in the win over the Thunder.

Circle on calendar 📅

After two games at home, the Spurs hit the road again this week with stops in Houston and Sacramento. They’ll wrap up in San Francisco where Wembanyama will face Stephen Curry and the Warriors for the second time this season on Sunday (8:30 ET, NBA League Pass). 

In their last matchup, part of the inaugural In-Season Tournament in November, the rookie scored 22 points with eight rebounds. 

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Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for E-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on X.