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NBA Stars Choose Victor Wembanyama as Top Pick for Building a Winning Team!

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Add those who play against him among those who are extremely impressed by Victor Wembanyama

Athletes often say the greatest respect they earn comes from their peers. That then says a lot about San Antonio Spurs phenom Victor Wembanyama.

In yet another tell that the generational talent continues to live up to that description, the 7-foot-4 rookie topped two categories as decided by fellow NBA players: “Who’s the best defender?” and “Who are you going to sign first (to build a team around)?”

The results are part of an anonymous poll of 142 NBA players conducted by The Athletic, which started the practice several years ago before the COVID pandemic and its effects caused an interruption to the questionnaire.

Victor Wembanyama tops franchise cornerstone players poll

It was close. Very close. But Wemby is the NBA players’ choice for the player they’d most want to “build a team around.”

Who do we edge out with 27.9%?

The reigning NBA Finals MVP who took home back-to-back league MVP honors in the two seasons before that. Nikola Jokic garnered 27.2% of voting.

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) and San Antonio Spurs forward Victor Wembanyama (1) box out for a rebound during the second half at Frost Bank Center.
Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The rest of the results look like this: Anthony Edwards 10.3%, Luka Doncic 8.8%, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 4.4%, Jayson Tatum 3,6%, LeBron James 2.9%, Joel Embiid 2.9%, Steph Curry 2.2%, Paolo Banchero 2.2% and Giannis Antetokounmpo 2.2%.

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It’s a list in which the fourth and fifth guys are two of the three finalists for this season’s Most Valuable Player award. Doncic is widely considered one of the top five, possibly top three, players in the game, while SGA is the best player on the West’s 1-seed. The third-place finisher in the poll is widely regarded as the wing player most likely to dominate the NBA for the next decade. Still just 22 years old, Edwards may already be the best at his position.

It’s a group of 11 that includes a fixture in the actual GOAT conversation, the consensus best shooter of all time and the Greek Freak who, like Jokic, boasts two league MVPs, a Finals MVP and a championship.

136 players decided they’d rather have Victor Wembanyama over them all.

Wemby tops “best defender” poll

Though the 20-year-old center didn’t earn as high a percentage of the vote as in the “Who are you going to sign first?” category, he won by a bigger margin.

At 15.2%, Victor Wembanyama and Jrue Holiday (12.9%) were the only players to get into double figures.

Rounding out the nine whose tallies were posted: Lu Dort 9.8%, Herb Jones 8.3%, Jaden McDaniels 8.3%, Rudy Gobert 6.0%, Alex Caruso 5.3%, Bam Adebayo 4.5% and Jalen Suggs 4.5%.

It’s extremely noteworthy that the favorite for Defensive Player of the Year isn’t even in the top five. Gobert is more than nine percentage points behind Wemby according to the players who voted, which perhaps isn’t as big a surprise as it seems because he was voted “most overrated.”  The third finalist for the DPOY, Adebayo, is tied for last on this list.

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Wembanyama’s coach also draws love

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich found himself near the top of a category as well.

Though he didn’t finish first like Victor Wembanyama did, the winningest coach in league history finished second to the Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra, 20.3% to 18.8%, in the “current coach you’d most like to play for” question.

Popovich has topped the poll before.


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