Spurs latest blowout shows Wembanyama has uphill battle in Rookie of the Year race

Nov 14, 2023; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Chet Holmgren (7) defends
Nov 14, 2023; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Chet Holmgren (7) defends / Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

The Clash of the Titans has come and gone. Left in the wake of their utter destruction are the gaping mouths of astonished viewers. That is how this article would have started if things went according to plan. Instead, fans witnessed the Oklahoma City Thunder throttle the San Antonio Spurs in a contest so lopsided that TNT mercifully tuned out during the fourth quarter in favor of live look-ins around the rest of the league.

Victor Wembanyama and Chet Holmgren only matched up man-to-man a handful of times throughout the night, scoring a combined 17 points on 7-of-25 shooting from the field. Even when they went toe to toe, there were limited fireworks. That ineffectiveness was not entirely unexpected. After all, they are both rookies acclimating to the NBA, and we are merely three weeks into the young season. Regardless, it was difficult not to be excited about a showdown between two game-changing talents.

Holmgren's head start gives him a leg up on Wembanyama

These unicorns are the leading candidates for Rookie of the Year this season, and they both have amassed their fair share of jaw-dropping highlights while stuffing the stat sheet on a nightly basis. While Holmgren has shot a higher percentage for a Thunder team that looks like a certified playoff contender, observers will do well to remember the situations the young talents are in at the start of their careers.

While Chet sat out last season due to a fractured foot, being present for the daily grind of the league was invaluable for his development. He bonded with teammates, soaked in schemes, and adapted to the brutal travel schedule. OKC is further in their rebuild from a talent perspective, and the disparity in shot-making and spacing on the court made that obvious. These advantages have offered Holmgren a comfortable ride while Wemby has learned the ropes in a phone booth.

The matchup between Wemby and Chet in January was supposed to be one of the most significant national television games for the number one overall pick and the Spurs this season. Their rematch versus the Thunder comes during Rivalry Week. Both squads should be in midseason form by then, and hopefully, viewers will get an epic battle between these skilled giants.