Victor Vector: Wembanyama rising up historical rookie rankings through 6 games

Welcome to the Victor Wembanyama experience. Come one, come all, for there is a 7-foot-4 Frenchman who can nutmeg you off the bounce, block your 3-pointers, step back from 3, put back his own stepback in two steps and dunk on you from a standstill outside the restricted area. Behold the human cheat code.

Here, we'll track the San Antonio Spurs rookie's weekly progress relative to the most anticipated prospects of the past 50 years, using Yahoo Sports' own default fantasy basketball settings to rank their production.

The metrics (and the points awarded for each statistical category):

• Points scored (0.5)
• Field goals made (1)
• Field goals attempted (-0.45)
• Free throws made (1)
• Free throws attempted (-0.75)
• 3-pointers made (3)
• Rebounds (1.5)
• Assists (2)
• Steals (3)
• Blocks (3)
• Turnovers (-2)

Shoutout: Bill Russell, who led his team to a championship as a rookie; Wilt Chamberlain and Wes Unseld, the only two players ever to win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same year; and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who walked into the league averaging a 29-15-4, all of whom made their professional debuts prior to 1970.

It is a challenge to draw comparisons across eras, but it is a bit easier from the late 1970s on, after the NBA installed the 82-game season (1967), recognized blocks and steals (1973) and merged with the ABA (1976).

All ranking systems are flawed, and the most notable vulnerability here is the 3-point advantage for modern players. While the NBA added the 3-point line in 1979, Larry Bird, for example, never averaged more than 3.3 attempts per game in his career. Even LeBron James attempted only 2.7 a game as a rookie in 2003-04. Luka Dončić, on the other hand, averaged 7.1 a game in 2017-18, and Wembanyama is averaging 5.3 through six games.

Experience negates a large part of that advantage. James was (and remains) a rarity as an instant prep-to-pro success, and the one-and-done rule was not implemented until the mid-2000s. Before then, rookies came into the NBA more seasoned. Fifteen of the 19 previous phenoms we highlight here played at least two college seasons. Yao Ming entered the NBA at age 22 after five seasons on the Shanghai Sharks. Two years of service in the Naval Reserves made David Robinson a 24-year-old rookie. You get the point.

We will find out if it all comes out in the wash. That is what the tracker is for. Before we get started, a key:

  • Season averages: Points (FG%/3P%/FT%), rebounds, assists (turnovers), steals, blocks

  • Advanced: Player efficiency rating, true-shooting percentage, win shares per 48, box plus-minus

  • Through X games (record): Total PTS-REB-AST-STL-BLK, TO (FGA-FGM, 3PA-3PM, FTA-FTM)

  • Victor Vector Yahoo Fantasy points (through Week X): Default season settings

(Illustration by Henry Russell/Yahoo Sports)
(Illustration by Henry Russell/Yahoo Sports)

Without further ado, the Victor Vector rankings: Week 1 (16th) • Week 2 (6th) ...

20. Yao Ming, Houston Rockets

  • 2002-03: 13.5 PTS (50/50/81), 8.2 REB, 1.8 BLK, 1.7 AST (2.1 TO), 0.4 STL

  • Advanced rookie statistics: 20.6 PER, 57.0 TS%, .176 WS/48, 2.2 BPM

  • Through six games (4-2): 20-22-4-0-2, 8 TO (8-18 FG, 0-0 3P, 4-7 FT)

  • Victor Vector Yahoo Fantasy points (through Week 2): 39.65

19. Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers

  • 1979-80: 18 PTS (53/23/81), 7.7 REB, 7.3 AST, 2.4 STL (4.0 TO), 0.5 BLK

  • Advanced rookie statistics: 20.6 PER, 60.2 TS%, .180 WS/48, 4.8 BPM

  • Through six games (4-2): 60-20-16-3-4, 10 TO (21-44 FG, 0-0 3P, 18-24 FT)

  • Victor Vector Yahoo Fantasy points (through Week 2): 94.2

18. Isiah Thomas, Detroit Pistons

  • 1981-82: 17 PTS (42/29/70), 7.8 AST (4.2 TO), 2.9 REB, 2.1 STL, 0.2 BLK

  • Advanced rookie statistics: 14.5 PER, 48.7 TS%, .046 WS/48, -0.8 BPM

  • Through six games (3-3): 140-20-37-6-1, *25 TO (47-107 FG, 1-4 3P, 45-60 FT)

  • Victor Vector Yahoo Fantasy points (through Week 2): 146.85

(*Game-to-game turnovers unavailable. Estimate based on season average.)

17. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers

  • 2010-11: 22.5 PTS (51/29/64), 12.1 REB, 3.8 AST (2.7 TO), 0.8 STL, 0.5 BLK

  • Advanced rookie statistics: 21.9 PER, 54.9 TS%, .152 WS/48, 2.6 BPM

  • Through six games (1-5): 111-60-11-4-1, 13 TO (43-86 FG, 0-1 3P, 25-44 FT)

  • Victor Vector Yahoo Fantasy points (through Week 2): 152.8

16. Kevin Durant, Seattle SuperSonics

  • 2007-08: 20.3 PTS (43/29/87), 4.4 REB, 2.4 AST (2.9 TO), 1.0 STL, 0.9 BLK

  • Advanced rookie statistics: 15.8 PER, 51.9 TS%, .040 WS/48, -0.1 BPM

  • Through six games (0-6): 133-32-13-8-4, 20 TO (49-124 FG, 12-40 3P, 23-30 FT)

  • Victor Vector Yahoo Fantasy points (through Week 2): 166.2

15. Luka Dončić, Dallas Mavericks

  • 2018-19: 21.2 PTS (43/33/71), 7.8 REB, 6 AST (3.4 TO), 1.1 STL, 0.3 BLK

  • Advanced rookie statistics: 19.6 PER, 54.5 TS%, .101 WS/48, 3.9 BPM

  • Through six games (2-4): 112-37-24-5-2, 24 TO (39-91 FG, 15-43 3P, 19-27 FT)

  • Victor Vector Yahoo Fantasy points (through Week 2): 174.3

14. Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets

  • 2005-06: 16.1 PTS (43/28/85), 7.8 AST (2.3 TO), 5.1 REB, 2.2 STL, 0.1 BLK

  • Advanced rookie statistics: 22.1 PER, 54.6 TS%, .178 WS/48, 5.2 BPM

  • Through six games (2-4): 93-26-34-11-1, 16 TO (33-72 FG, 5-21 3P, 22-25 FT)

  • Victor Vector Yahoo Fantasy points (through Week 2): 176.35

13. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

  • 1997-98: 21.1 PTS (55/0/66), 11.9 REB, 2.7 AST (3.4 TO), 2.5 B LK, 0.7 STL

  • Advanced rookie statistics: 22.6 PER, 57.7 TS%, .192 WS/48, 4.6 BPM

  • Through six games (2-1): 85-67-14-2-17, 22 TO (37-65 FG, 0-1 3P, 11-26 FT)

  • Victor Vector Yahoo Fantasy points (through Week 2): 183.25

12. Patrick Ewing, New York Knicks

  • 1985-86: 20 PTS (47/0/74), 9 REB, 2.1 BLK, 2.0 AST (3.4 TO), 1.1 STL

  • Advanced rookie statistics: 17.4 PER, 52.6 TS%, .084 WS/48, 1.1 BPM

  • Through six games (0-6): 128-57-11-10-10, 23 TO (48-106 FG, 0-0 3P, 32-41 FT)

  • Victor Vector Yahoo Fantasy points (through Week 2): 187.05

11. Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers

  • 1996-97: 23.5 PTS (42/34/70), 7.5 AST (4.4 TO), 4.1 REB, 2.1 STL, 0.3 BLK

  • Advanced rookie statistics: 18 PER, 51.3 TS%, .065 WS/48, 0.9 BPM

  • Through six games (3-3): 142-28-28-13-4, 29 TO (47-98 FG, 12-28 3P, 36-60 FT)

  • Victor Vector Yahoo Fantasy points (through Week 2): 191.9

10. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

  • 2003-04: 20.9 PTS (42/29/75), 5.9 AST (3.5 TO), 5.5 REB, 1.6 STL, 0.7 BLK

  • Advanced rookie statistics: 18.3 PER, 48.8 TS%, .078 WS/48, 1.7 BPM

  • Through six games (1-5): 101-46-42-10-4, 22 TO (42-97 FG, 2-12 3P, 15-24 FT)

  • Victor Vector Yahoo Fantasy points (through Week 2): 202.85

9. Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston Rockets

  • 1984-85: 20.6 PTS (54/0/61), 11.9 REB, 2.7 BLK, 1.4 AST (2.9 TO), 1.2 STL

  • Advanced rookie statistics: 21.1 PER, 56.4 TS%, .168 WS/48, 2.1 BPM

  • Through six games (6-0): 113-59-10-5-20, 16 TO (49-84 FG, 0-0 3P, 15-30 FT)

  • Victor Vector Yahoo Fantasy points (through Week 2): 211.7

8. Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls

  • 1984-85: 28.2 PTS (52/17/85), 6.5 REB, 5.9 AST (3.5 TO), 2.4 STL, 0.8 BLK

  • Advanced rookie statistics: 25.8 PER, 59.2 TS%, .213 WS/48, 7.3 BPM

  • Through six games (4-2): 141-28-30-17-10, 24 TO (50-108 FG, 0-0 3P, 41-47 FT)

  • Victor Vector Yahoo Fantasy points (through Week 2): 212.65

7. Grant Hill, Detroit Pistons

  • 1994-95: 19.9 PTS (48/15/73), 6.4 REB, 5 AST (2.9 TO), 1.8 STL, 0.9 BLK

  • Advanced rookie statistics: 19 PER, 54.1 TS%, .097 WS/48, 2.0 BPM

  • Through six games (4-2): 141-31-29-9-8, 17 TO (52-95 FG, 3-7 3P, 34-41 FT)

  • Victor Vector Yahoo Fantasy points (through Week 2): 213.5

6. Victor Wembanyama, San Antonio Spurs

  • 2023-24: 20.5 PTS (49/31/74), 8.2 REB, 2.0 AST (3.8 TO), 1.3 STL, 2.7 BLK

  • Advanced rookie statistics: 19.9 PER, 58.2 TS%, .047 WS/48, -0.5 BPM

  • Through six games (3-3): 123-49-12-8-16, 23 TO (45-92 FG, 10-32 3P, 23-31 FT)

  • Victor Vector Yahoo Fantasy points (through Week 2): 218.35

5. Ralph Sampson, Houston Rockets

  • 1983-84: 21 PTS (52/25/66), 11.1 REB, 2.4 BLK, 2 AST (3.6 TO), 0.9 STL

  • Advanced rookie statistics: 20.1 PER, 55.1 TS%, .108 WS/48, 0.9 BPM

  • Through six games (2-4): 125-80-14-1-14, 21 TO (53-102 FG, 0-1 3P, 19-28 FT)

  • Victor Vector Yahoo Fantasy points (through Week 2): 218.6

4. Larry Bird, Boston Celtics

  • 1979-80: 21.3 PTS (47/41/84), 10.4 REB, 4.5 AST (3.2 TO), 1.7 STL, 0.6 BLK

  • Advanced rookie statistics: 20.5 PER, 53.8 TS%, .182 WS/48, 4.5 BPM

  • Through six games (4-2): 112-47-27-12-7, 14 TO (47-87 FG, 2-6 3P, 16-21 FT)

  • Victor Vector Yahoo Fantasy points (through Week 2): 223.6

3. Dikembe Mutombo, Denver Nuggets

  • 1991-92: 16.6 PTS (49/0/64), 12.3 REB, 3 BLK, 2 AST (3.5 TO), 0.6 STL

  • Advanced rookie statistics: 16.5 PER, 54.0 TS%, .086 WS/48, 0.0 BPM

  • Through six games (3-3): 114-90-10-8-18, 26 TO (40-98 FG, 0-0 3P, 34-47 FT)

  • Victor Vector Yahoo Fantasy points (through Week 2): 232.65

2. David Robinson, San Antonio Spurs

  • 1989-90: 24.3 PTS (53/0/73), 12 REB, 3.9 BLK, 2.0 AST (3.1 TO), 1.7 STL

  • Advanced rookie statistics: 26.3 PER, 59.7 TS%, .241 WS/48, 6.9 BPM

  • Through six games (3-3): 128-77-13-10-21, 24 TO (38-78 FG, 0-0 3P, 52-72 FT)

  • Victor Vector Yahoo Fantasy points (through Week 2): 251.4

1. Shaquille O'Neal, Orlando Magic

  • 1992-93: 23.4 PTS (56/0/59), 13.9 REB, 3.5 BLK, 1.9 AST (3.8 TO), 0.7 STL

  • Advanced rookie statistics: 22.9 PER, 58.4 TS%, .163 WS/48, 3.5 BPM

  • Through six games (4-2): 158-101-7-4-20, 27 TO (60-103 FG, 0-0 3P, 38-65 FT)

  • Victor Vector Yahoo Fantasy points (through Week 2): 265.4