Renck: Spurs’ Victor Wembanyama couldn’t eclipse Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic, but he’s taking game to new heights

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The future of the NBA dribbles between his legs, shoots 3s, speaks with a French accent and has the wingspan of a pterodactyl. San Antonio Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama is the most fascinating ath…

DENVER, CO – APRIL 2: Victor Wembanyama of the San Antonio Spurs successfully finger rolls from about eight feet away over Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets during the first quarter at Ball Arena in Denver on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. The future of the NBA dribbles between his legs, shoots 3s, speaks with a French accent and has the wingspan of a pterodactyl.

It was unusual. And a compliment to Wembanyama. Jokic was doing the type of stuff that will win him his third MVP award. At one point that included a bumper pool pass to Christian Braun – it was straight out of The Matrix as he redirected the ball with sleight of hand – for a wide open 3-pointer. He drained a 3, blocked two shots and scored 12 points, including a finger roll from eight feet away that would make George Gervin blush. It left Jokic with his arms in the air exasperated.

What played out in the fourth quarter wasn’t just hoops. It was theater. With 1:27 remaining in the fourth, Jokic backed Wembanyama into the lane and drained a 6-foot hook. The rookie answered moments later with a block and a driving layup that knotted the score at 105 with 1:02 left. It’s a bit chilling to contemplate Wembanyama’s evolution over the next three years, when he adds weight, and the Spurs bring in legitimate talent around him. He is 20 years old, a full nine years younger than Jokic.

 

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