Victor Wembanyama arrived in the NBA with fanfare unseen in decades.
Michael Jordan and LeBron James are perhaps the only two players in NBA history to have experienced this level of scrutiny from the beginning.
French basketball prodigy Wembanyama was selected by the San Antonio Spurs with the first overall pick in the 2023 draft and is currently living in the NBA.
The 19-year-old played his eleventh match of his fledgling career on Tuesday. He scored 8 points on 4 of 15 shots, including 0 of 3 from beyond the arc. The Spurs lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder 123-87.
It was a disappointing performance, but Wimbledon has been pretty good with LeBron and MJ through the first 11 games of his career.
The 7-foot-4 star has scored 205 points in his first 11 career games, averaging 18.6 points per game (PPG).
Meanwhile, LeBron has scored 182 points in his first 11 NBA games, averaging 16.5 points per game.
Air Jordan dropped 289 points during the same span, averaging 26.3 points per game.
Unsurprisingly, when it comes to rebounding, Wimby has the edge (and height) in both areas. The Spurs rookie averaged 9.3 rebounds in his first 11 games, compared to 6.5 for LeBron and 5.6 for Mike.
However, James averaged the most assists per game through his first ten games. The King averages 6.5 assists per game, while Victor averages 2.5 per game. Jordan averaged 4.7 points per game during the same span.
Wembunyama also beat both men in blocks — he averaged 2.4 blocks per game to Jordan’s 2.0 and LeBron’s 0.8 — but finished last in field goal percentage.
In these 11 games, he averaged 43.2% from the field, while Jordan and LeBron averaged 49.1% and 43.3% respectively.
Of course, context is everything when comparing raw data, and era must be taken into account.
Jordan played in an era when defenses were indeed much stricter and players were allowed to “hand check” opponents – meaning if a player was guarding a perimeter player, he could reach out and put his hand on the player to “check” him – some Stuff is no longer allowed.
The early 2000s were also one of the best defensive eras in basketball, dominated by some of the best big men we’ve ever seen. LeBron has to go up against the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, Ben Wallace and Kevin Garnett every night.
In contrast, today’s NBA is a three-point league, defined by “pace and space,” where any number of players can score 30+ points on a given night.
As a result, statistics can be inflated when comparing data from different time periods, raising questions about how well a rookie Jordan or LeBron would perform in today’s NBA.
We’ll never know. But what we do know is that Wembanyama produced some great results early in his career and created his own legacy in the process.