Jake’s Takes: How Victor Wembanyama is Forcing Sportsbooks to Reconsider Player Props

March 8, 2024

Jake’s Takes: How Victor Wembanyama is Forcing Sportsbooks to Reconsider Player Props

In this week's Jake's Takes, the spotlight is on NBA rookie Victor Wembanyama, whose exceptional performance is reshaping expectations and betting lines alike, showcasing a talent unlike any seen before in the league.

At this point in the NBA season, I think that it’s fair to say that San Antonio Spurs’ rookie Victor Wembanyama has lived up to the hype. He’s probably the biggest anomaly in NBA history – and I do mean that seriously. He’s a 7’4” 20-year old with an 8’ wingspan who is equally adept at blocking shots (a league-leading 193 blocks, 35 more than the next closest player) and draining three pointers (94 3pm). 

People will talk about Chet Holmgren when they mention Wemby, and while Chet is a spectacular player in his own right, we’ve never seen anything quite like Victor in the NBA. Since the NBA All-Star Break, Victor Wembanyama has played in 7 games. He’s averaged 22ppg, 11.7rpg, 5apg, 2.3spg, and 5.3bpg. Those are ridiculous numbers, and he’s also done it with 47/42/83 shooting splits. He’s literally unguardable, and his ability to hit a high percentage of his free throws means that “Hack-a-Shaq” strategies don’t work. 

Unsurprisingly, he’s recently become a massive favorite to win NBA Rookie of the Year. He’s joined the race for Defensive Player of the Year despite playing for the third worst team in the NBA, largely because he’s already racked up 265 stocks (steals + blocks). It’s not inconceivable that as a rookie, Wembanyama could break into the top-20 all-time for single-season stocks. That’s wild.

From a betting perspective, sportsbooks have had to take notice. Why? People have taken notice of the hyped rookie, and it’s paying dividends for many – particularly in one field. Most sportsbooks have been setting his blocks line at O/U 3.5 on a nightly basis… but Wembanyama has been smashing the over. February 8th was the last time he didn’t hit his over (it’s March 7th!). That’s nine consecutive outings where he’s gone over. Sportsbooks may have to consider adjusting his lines on a future basis, as people are definitely starting to hammer his overs.

Even wilder? In the last ten games, Victor Wembanyama has hit the over in 50% of his points markets, 60% of his rebounds markets, 60% of his assists markets, 80% of his blocks markets and 50% of his steals markets. When you look at 3pm markets (70% hit rate in the last 10 games), you wonder how this guy isn’t murdering sportsbooks right now.

Now, nobody is ever going to top Wilt Chamberlain’s rookie season, when Wilt the Stilt averaged 38ppg and 27rpg. But this season matches up pretty well with anyone else. Do you know how many other rookies in NBA history have averaged 20 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks per game? One. This article is about him. 5x5 games (games with at least 5 points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks) are the basketball equivalent of a perfect game in the MLB. There have been 22 of them in NBA history. Victor Wembanyama had one in his 51st career game.

I sound like I’m gushing about this kid, but it’s because I am. The stats don’t even do him justice, and the stats are absurd. Players are terrified of challenging him at the rim already. He doesn’t even have to jump to record some blocks; he’s become somewhat of a “dad-blocker” where he looks like a proud father swatting away a five-year-old's shot at the rim. The Spurs being bad hurts his image with fans, but the truth is that Wemby is already (at-worst) a top-30 player in the league. The Spurs are 8.7 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor versus him off it (they’re also 0-6 in the games that he’s missed). 

He’s simply too good for this team to continue to lose. Another top draft pick (ideally a playmaking guard with passing chops) will help this team (and him) next season. Once he begins playing normal minutes (he’s still under 30mpg), the wins and the DPOY awards are going to start rolling in. And we’re just excited to be here when that happens.

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