What Are ‘Stocks,’ The Stat Victor Wembanyama Has Dominated This Season?

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Victor Wembanyama

Despite playing less than thirty minutes a game, Victor Wembanyama has been leading the way in his first NBA season in terms of “stocks”—the statistic that adds up steals and blocks—with an average not seen for 18 years.

As you can probably glean, “stock” is a portmanteau of “steals” and “blocks”. Until now, “stock” has been a little-used way of presenting statistics, but Victor Wembanyama is bringing it back into fashion this season.  In addition to being the NBA’s best defender in his rookie year—a first since Manute Boi in 1985-1986 (5 blocks on average in 26 minutes)—the Spurs rookie also features in the top 20 in steals (he’s tied for 12th).

Last season, no player appeared in the top 20 for both steals and blocks. As a result, Wemby tops the “stocks” rankings despite a playing time (29 minutes per game) that barely places him among the league’s 100 most-used players (98th). Last year, the player who finished top of the “stocks” list (Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr.) was voted NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

The biggest gap on his runner-up since Anthony Davis

Victor Wembanyama’s current average is the highest since the 2006-2007 season, which was a strange year when you consider three players broke the 4.5 “stocks” barrier at the same time: Marcus Camby (4.7), Russian Andrei Kirilenko (4.7) and Gerald Wallace (4.6).

It’s worth noting that this is the first time the gap between the top-ranked player and his closest pursuer has exceeded one unit (+1.19) since Anthony Davis in 2017-1018 (+1.03 over Rudy Gobert, 2nd) – although we must remain cautious as the regular season is not over and San Antonio’s new star is not immune to a “rookie wall” effect (a drop in performance due to fatigue in a season of learning the NBA).

Even so, these averages and deviations are only an ever-evolving baseline, given that the No.1 player in the latest draft is only 20 years old. For example, since the All-Star Game, Wemby has played in seven games, during which his stats have jumped to 2.3 steals and 5.3 assists. These averages were boosted by his two performances on February 23 and 24, when he became only the second player in NBA history to record 5 steals and 5 blocks in two consecutive games (after Michael Jordan in 1987).

Room for improvement

Cumulatively, this gives an average of 7.6 “stocks”, which even exceeds the figures compiled by the two great historical specialists in a statistical calculation that generally favors big players—namely Hakeem Olajuwon (6.7 “stocks” in 1989-1990) and David Robinson (6.8 “stocks” in 1991-1992), the only players (along with Gerald Wallace) who have exceeded an average of 2 steals and blocks in the same season.

It’s worth noting those stats were officially tracked for the first time during the 1973-1974 season, meaning that list excludes players such as Bill Russell (considered to be probably the best defender in NBA history) and Wilt Chamberlain, whose stats were sometimes inflated by the fact that he almost never left the court.

Of course, Victor Wembanyama only played in a limited number of games. But given his continued progress, the fact that his playing time is set to increase (he can reasonably expect to play 20% more) and that the Spurs can be expected to make better use of his invaluable qualities in the years to come means he probably has nowhere to go but up. 

This post is originally from L’Équipe