Spurs’ Victor Wembanyama gets Stephen Curry comparison from Kevin Garnett.


Kevin Garnett, Stephen Curry and Victor Wembanyama

Victor Wembanyama played arguably the best game of his brief NBA career on Friday, willing the San Antonio Spurs to a thrilling overtime win over the New York Knicks by dropping a career-high 40 points, grabbing 20 rebounds and dishing out seven assists on 13-of-22 from the field and 4-of-9 on triples. The French phenom became the first rookie to rack up 40 points and 20 boards in a single game since Shaquille O’Neal all the way back in 1992.

Before Wembanyama etched his name next to O’Neal in the NBA record books, though, his singular on-court exploits drew a comparison to another unique all-time great. On the most recent episode of KG Certified, Minnesota Timberwolves and Boston Celtics legend Kevin Garnett invoked Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry while discussing how Wembanyama is creating a new mold for big men.

“Wemby’s been looking crazy, man. I’m being dead a**, man. You remember when Steph Curry started shooting the long ball and everyone was like super oooh’d and aaah’d?” Garnett said to co-host and former Celtics teammate Paul Pierce. “Bro, he’s brought a different mix and a different effect to the center spot. Not only is he moving and growing the game, but he making the five damn near look like the three. Wemby is damn near KD in the five, bro. I swear. He’s bringing a dynamic to the five that…If you at the five position and you can’t slide and you can’t move your feet and be dynamic, it’s gonna be hard, bro.”

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Garnett’s typically animated, excited analysis is spot-on from multiple perspectives.

Curry’s status as the greatest shooter ever ushered in a new era of basketball that prioritizes offensive spacing and three-point shooting, completely changing how teams across the league play. Nobody has ever drawn as much defensive attention on or off the ball and bent defenses like the Warriors’ four-time champion.

Wembanyama provides a similar dynamic, but on both sides of the ball. At 7’4 with an eight-foot wingspan and the dexterity and coordination of most forwards, he absolutely warps the floor defensively, covering more ground as a primary and help defender than any player in the history of the sport. Wembanyama provides gravity like Curry on offense, too, his ability to knock down triples from well beyond the arc and finish lobs thrown anywhere near the rim putting all-court pressure on defenses.

There’s 16 years of age and 13 inches of height differential between them, but Curry and Wembanyama really are cut from the same extremely rare cloth when it comes to changing the geometry of basketball. You don’t even need to get that broad and basketball existential to pull at a thread directly conneecting Curry and Wembanyama, though.

Curry is taking 6.1 three-point attempts off the dribble this season, hitting them at a relatively pedestrian clip—for him, at least—of 36.9%, per NBA.com/stats. Wembanayama can’t match Curry or other pull-up long-range shooters in terms of volume, but is already connecting of triples off the bounce like Golden State’s Splash Brothers. He’s shooting a mind-bending 39.7% on pull-up threes this season, better than all but six of the 59 players launching at lest two off-dribble long balls per game.

Wembanyama, clearly, is only just scratching the surface of the player he’ll be in his prime. He’s taken his game to new heights since transition to center full-time in mid-December, running away with Rookie of the Year honors despite an awesome debut season from Chet Holmgren and even pushing Rudy Gobert in the minds of some voters to win Defensive Player of the Year. The 20-year-old will definitely receiving a fair share of All-NBA votes, too.

After leading the Spurs to victory on Friday despite Knicks star Jalen Brunson exploding for a career-best 61 points, Wembanyama sent a humble warning to the rest of the league about “greatness” inspiring him.

“I’ve never seen so much greatness before,” he said, per the AP. “The season has been going on for just some months. I’ve just witnessed so much greatness and I want to be a part of it. I always wanted to, but more and more seeing that I’m already able to compete with those guys. I’m not near, but I’m on the right path. I know it and I’m going to get there and soon.”

Don’t be surprised when Wembanyama gets there as soon as 2024-25 tips off, becoming a perennial candidate for the league’s highest individual awards while dragging San Antonio from the depths of the standings toward respectability, and ultimately, title contention. Just don’t say all-timers like Garnett failed to tell you it was coming.

“So the position is getting taller, the position is not only more skilled but it’s more versatile than I’ve ever seen it, bro. Like the yank that he did on Gobert back in San Antonio was probably one of the more keen moves that I’ve seen a big do,” Garnett said of Wembanyama. “To see this dynamic with this type of size, bro, it’s just different, bro, and he is different. If this is the worst we’ve seen of Wemby then strap your seatbelt on and hold on.”


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