Victor Wembanyama’s 40-20 game matches 31-year Shaq first, NBA loses its mind

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It’s hard to forecast just how good any NBA draftee is going to be but boy did they get it right with Victor Wembanyama.

The No. 1 pick from last year’s draft has set the NBA on fire this season, despite his San Antonio Spurs sitting dead last in the Western Conference and sporting the third worst record in the league.

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But after taking the NBA world by storm in what has already been a record-breaking rookie season, the 20-year-old Spurs star with the slight 224cm frame and 240cm wingspan has done it again.

Wembanyama has added to his NBA records with a stunning 40-20 match in a 130-126 overtime win over the New York Knicks.

That is 40 points, 20 rebounds for the uninitiated, while he also added seven assists, two steals and a block.

It’s the first time since Shaquille O’Neal tallied 46 points and 21 assists in February 1993 that a rookie has had a 40-20 game.

Incredibly, Wembanyama wasn’t close to the top scorer in the game as Jalen Brunson hit 61 points for the Knicks but it still wasn’t enough to claim the win.

“These efforts, these results, we wouldn’t have gotten them at the start of the year and we wouldn’t have gotten them without you guys,” Wembanyama said as he addressed the home crowd after the game.

“Seventy games into the season, I still see this place packed every night. Love you guys. Love the support. Go Spurs go!”

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Wembanyama: “He’s pretty special.”

“All teams lose leads. But how you come back from it is important and earlier in the year we would not have sustained our own execution, our own pace. You can see the maturity that they’ve developed during the season.

“(They) stayed strong when New York made a heck of a run.”

And the NBA world agreed, losing their minds once again for the man described an “alien” before he was even drafted.

Hawks guard Dejounte Murray tweeted: “WEMBY IS ELITE!!!!”

One fan wrote: “Also this league is done once spurs get some competent help around wemby by the way. We got like 18 months to win a ring before its over. The league has never seen anything like this freak man.”

Another suggested: “We are watching the beginning of greatness.”

Another asked: “Is Victor Wembanyama the greatest rookie we’ve ever seen?”

Even Brunson gave Wembanyama his props.

“He’s gonna be one of the greatest players this game has seen,” Brunson said.

“Just the way he’s built and what he’s been able to do so far. Got a lot of respect for him, and it’s definitely tough to get a shot up and in over him.”

Wembanyama is no doubt the short-priced favourite to be the NBA’s rookie of the year after claiming countless rookie records.

Even just recently, he became the 26th player in history to claim a triple-double which included blocks while he also secured a 5×5 in February, where when he tallied at least five in all statistical categories (points, assists, rebounds, steals and blocks), which has only been achieved 22 times in NBA history by 15 different players.

Brunson’s efforts should not be overshadowed either, despite landing on the wrong side of the result.

It’s the equal 17th most points scored in an NBA loss by a player in history, but the fourth time a player has scored 60 in a loss this season — joining Phoenix’s Devin Booker and Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns who each had 62 point games in January, while Golden State’s Steph Curry had 60 against the Hawks in February.

Incredibly, other than Booker’s 70 points in a loss against Boston in 2017 and the other instances this season, the last time before this season someone had lost after scoring 61 points or more was Michael Jordan in 1993.

Brunson notched the fifth-highest points total of this high-scoring season, but he missed a potential go-ahead three-pointer with 5.4 seconds left in overtime.

The 61-point tally was one point short of the franchise record of 62 points held by Carmelo Anthony set in 2014.

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