Victor Wembanyama voted best defender by NBA peers

Wembanyama among three finalists for Defensive Player of the Year

Utah Jazz forward Taylor Hendricks, right, guards San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama (1) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 27, 2024, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) (Rick Bowmer, Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

SAN ANTONIO – With his 8-foot wingspan, Victor Wembanyama can block and alter shots with ease, as NBA players have clearly noticed.

The NBA staff at the Athletic interviewed 142 players from March 5 through April 11 about league matters. That’s nearly a third of the NBA, and the answers are kept anonymous.

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One-hundred two players cast their votes for the best defender, and Wembanyama finished first with 15.2%. Boston Celtics guard Jrue Holiday finished second with 12.9% of the votes. Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert, the favorite to win the 2023–24 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, finished sixth in the poll with 6 % of the vote.

Wembanyama has eight career games with 7+ blocks, while Gobert has 7 career games with 7 or more blocks. Wemby did that in 70 games in his rookie campaign. Gobert, who’s in his 10th season, has played 754 total career games. It’s no wonder Wemby finished first in the Athletic’s poll.

The Spurs rookie phenom is one of three finalists for the 2023–24 DPOY, along with Gobert and Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo.

The Athletic also asked “if you’re building a roster from scratch: Who are you going to sign first?”

One-hundred thirty-six players cast a vote, and Wemby came out on top with 27.9% of the vote, just beating out Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic, who was second with 27.2%.

Wemby is 20 years old, and the Spurs will have him for many years to come. Jokic is 29 and an elite NBA player, but now in his ninth NBA season, his runway is shorter.

The first overall draft pick even grabbed one vote for the player guys would least like to fight. The player who voted for Wemby told The Athletic he would have a massive reach advantage.

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About the Author

Larry Ramirez joined the KSAT 12 sports team in October 2004.

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