Victor Wembanyama just short of quadruple-double in historic performance against Nuggets

Written by on April 3, 2024

Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone called Victor Wembanyama “the future of the NBA” after defeating the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, but the compliment almost didn’t go far enough. He went toe-to-toe with Nikola Jokic, whom most would consider the “present” of the NBA, and very nearly came out on top with yet another historic stat line.

Wembanyama finished the game with 23 points, 15 rebounds, nine blocks and eight assists. Had Michael Porter Jr. missed the 3-pointer with 27.1 seconds remaining that ultimately won the game for Denver, the Nuggets and Spurs may have gone to overtime and given Wembanyama five more minutes to chase the elusive quadruple-double. There have been only four of them on record in NBA history (though in fairness, blocks weren’t recorded until after Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain retired), and the last came 30 years ago when David Robinson did so in 1994. It should go without saying that no rookie has ever achieved a quadruple-double. 

Alas, Wembanyama didn’t get the extra time that he needed, and so the presumptive Rookie of the Year fell just short of one of the NBA’s greatest statistical achievements. Instead, he had to settle for becoming the first player in league history to finish a game with at least 20 points, 15 rebounds, eight blocks and eight assists.

Wembanyama has made a habit of posting statistical anomalies. He already has one of only 22 five-by-five games in league history. On Feb. 29 he became the only player ever to earn seven assists, five blocks and five 3-pointers. A March 17 game against the Nets made him just the fourth player ever to reach 33 points, 15 rebounds, seven blocks and seven assists. The list goes on and on and on. It’s only going to get longer.

That is what Malone meant when he said that Wembanyama is the league’s future. If he’s doing all of this now, as a rookie, it stands to reason that the numbers are only going to get crazier with time. After all, he’s seen a similar progression up close with Jokic, who outdueled Wembanyama Tuesday with 42 points, 16 rebounds and six assists of his own.

But once a player starts posting lines never before seen in history as consistently as Wembanyama already is, the tense of his greatness should never be shifted to the future. Wembanyama is one of the NBA’s best players here and now. On Tuesday, he very nearly led his Spurs to a road win over the defending champions without arguably his two best teammates, Devin Vassell and Jeremy Sochan. If he weren’t playing with such a young and injured roster, he might already be ready to compete with Jokic at this level on the postseason stage.

The Spurs aren’t there yet. Wembanyama is. So Malone had better enjoy his present with Jokic, because once San Antonio catches up with its stellar rookie, the future really will belong to him.

The post Victor Wembanyama just short of quadruple-double in historic performance against Nuggets first appeared on CBS Sports.

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