The Victor Wembanyama-Chet Holmgren rivalry is pretty interesting. In an era where every player is expected to be able to do a ton of things on the court, especially on offense, you got two ‘unicorn’ seven-footers that have endless wingspans, and they can rebound, protect the paint, score, and shoot like they’re prototypical guards. 

Of course, with all that talent, the individual numbers are also there. It’s identical too:

Wembanyama – 20.7 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.3 steals, 3.3 blocks (leads the league), 46.7 FG%, 32.7 3FG%, 81.4 FT%, 28.7 minutes

Holmgren – 17.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 0.7 steals, 2.6 blocks, 54.4 FG%, 39.8 FT%, 78.4 FT%

As such, they are first and second in the Rookie of the Year race:

However, it was also clear right away that Holmgren has a better team makeup, and that they are more poised to win than Wembanyama’s. It immediately showed in the team records.

Holmgren and the Oklahoma City Thunder jumped into the top spots in the Western Conference, while Wemby and the San Antonio Spurs quickly plummeted down the standings, which included an 18-game losing streak in early November through mid December.

Record as of March 1, 2024:

  • Thunder – 41-18
  • Spurs – 12-48

The trend also continued in their head-to-head meetings. While both games had intrigue and action from the rival rookies, the Thunder steamrolled the Spurs in their first two meetings, – 123-87 and 140-114. So, in anticipation of Friday’s third encounter, it was to assume that more of the same would happen, especially since OKC is a two-way team (top five in offensive and defensive rating), while San Antonio is basically the opposite.


But then, madness. The Spurs, as led by Wemby, just turned their jets up, and refused to lose to the Thunder again.

Dicing all throughout, it was a close game at the end of the third, 98-96, with the Spurs owning the hairthin lead. The final frame then slightly shifted in favor of San Antonio. Through motivation from the past two blowout losses and the crowd’s energy, the hosts proceeded to keep punching and pushing the pace, pressuring the opposition to keep up. With Wembanyama doing his usual stuff, key teammates followed through with ample support, namely Devin Vassell, who had 28 points and nine assists, and Jeremy Sochan, who broke out of a slump by notching a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds.

The main highlight was this great sequence from Wemby with 2:13 remaining and the game still close. Such has been happening all season, and it’s a preview of how good he can be, but it must feel nice that he now did it against his rival and his core of tormentors. 

In the end, San Antonio won, 132-118, earning one of their biggest upset victories of the season.

The Frenchman finished with a statsheet-stuffing 28 points, 13 boards, seven assists, two steals, and five blocks, topped off nicely by that mini dagger and massive stop. He has swatted away 180 shots this season thus far, but that might be his favorite to date, by far.

Here’s the 20-year-old speaking to the media after the game.

Wemby’s Spurs will not be able to catch Holmgren’s Thunder this season, but they may have a clearer chance next season or the next couple of years. Also, the seeds have certainly been planted for a classic rival between two players with similar build and game.

The two phenoms will meet again on April 10th. Mark your calendars.