Victor Wembanyama Outduels Chet Holmgren In Epic Clash

We publish independently audited information that meets our strong editorial guidelines. Be aware we may earn a commission if you purchase anything via links on our pages.
Chet Holmgren and Victor Wembanyama

Victor Wembanyama’s stellar performance against Oklahoma City (28 points and 13 rebounds) lifted the Spurs to a big victory over the Western Conference runners-up and strengthened his position as rookie of the year favorite over Chet Holmgren.

“MVP! MVP!”. Victor Wembanyama turned the heads of the 18,000 fans present at the Frost Bank Center on Thursday night, single-handedly sinking the Thunder at the end of the game thanks to two clutch shots and an authoritative block on his biggest rival, Chet Holmgren. “I’d missed this s***!” the Frenchman shouted into the arena microphone after the game, happy to be back home, and moved to tears as he launched into the “Go Spurs Go!” chant with the crowd.

Very relaxed during the warm-up, Chet Holmgren won his first one-on-one showdown against Victor Wembanyama before besting him several times with penetration in the paint. The Frenchman’s biggest competition for the Rookie of the Year title was already up to 19 points on 6/7 shooting at half-time. Wemby took longer to get going, sometimes forcing his way off the dribble before Gregg Popovich called him back to the bench. The first flashes of brilliance came from his defense; we saw him record two blocks on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (one of them without needing to jump) and then grab several rebounds.

Ahead at halftime 69-64, the Spurs kicked things into high gear thanks to the French star, who hit back-to-back jump shots only to see the Thunder come back when he was on the bench. However, Victor Wembanyama stepped up at the end of the game with the help of his prowess from behind the three-point line.

“This kid is unique,” said teammate Devin Vassell, who also had a great game with 28 points and 9 assists). Coach Popovich added, “He’s getting more and more physical as the game goes on.” Victor Wembanyama finished with 28 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, and 5 blocks, propelling his team to the 132-118 victory. 

The intense showdown was also marked by the brilliance of the Spurs’ collective effort, as the 39 assists they recorded is the most they’ve had this season. On the other side of the ball, Gilgeous-Alexander finished as the top scorer with 31 points, while Holmgren added 23.

“Collectively, we’re heading in the right direction,” commented Victor Wembanyama after the game before referring to the Rookie of the Year award. “Of course, individual trophies are important to me. The best way to help my team is to perform well. But I don’t think the race is over, there are still 22 games to go”.

This post is originally from L’Équipe