Kyrie Irving Gives Massive Praise to Victor Wembanyama

Victor Wembanyama, Kyrie Irving, Mavericks, Spurs, NBA
Mar 19, 2024; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (11) shoots under the arm of San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama (1) in the second half at Frost Bank Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks kept pace in the race to avoid the NBA Play-In Tournament in the Western Conference with a 113-107 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night. However, it wasn’t always smooth sailing for the Mavericks in the game.

Dallas was challenged constantly on offense because of the presence of rookie phenom, Victor Wembanyama. Wembanyama, who is one of the contenders for the Defensive Player of the Year award this season, made a major impact.

The Mavericks had to be aware of where Wembanyama was at all times because he could alter a shot attempt from anywhere on the court. His length makes it very difficult to shoot over him and it is virtually impossible to score around him at the rim.

NBA NEWS & SCORES: Victor Wembanyama, Kyrie Irving, Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs Updates

Irving found plenty of success against San Antonio, scoring a game-high 28 points. He was 13-of-21 from the field, including 0-for-5 from 3-point range. One of the most talented offensive players in the NBA, Irving did an excellent job of finding his spots despite his jumper not being on.

But, even the best players are thwarted sometimes. Despite keeping an eye on where Wembanyama was, Irving still blocked by him on one attempt at the rim on a reverse layup. The NBA veteran praised the work of the rookie, as Irving believes Wembanyama deserves consideration for the Defensive Player of the Year award.

“You got to be aware of him late challenging, and he has the timing of a guard,” Irving said of Wembanyama. “I don’t know if it’s just he’s played against guards, but I’m just saying, I think he’s got a lot of reps of playing against good guards and guarding them one-on-one. 

“Today, I thought I had a reverse layup, and he ended up blocking it on the left side because I thought he was going to be on the right side,” Irving explained. “But he has this long wingspan, so he covers up a lot of space,” Irving said via Grant Afseth of DallasBasketball.com.

NBA NEWS & SCORES: Victor Wembanyama, Kyrie Irving, Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs Updates

Only 61 games into his NBA career, Wembanyama is already proving to be a difference-maker on both ends of the court. Even being in the running at all, as Rudy Gobert of the Minnesota Timberwolves is currently the heavy favorite to win, is an impressive feat for the newcomer.

“As a competitor and challenger, I like going in there and challenging him because if you can finish on [Victor Wembanyama], I feel like you can finish on anybody in the world,” Irving said. “He’s going to block some and he’s going to make you change it, but it’s only going to make you better as a basketball player, and that’s what I want, and I think everybody should relish in that. But also be smart in challenging him, because he does bate you a lot. He does do things like a Defensive Player of the Year would.”

Despite playing only 29.1 minutes per game, Wembanyama is leading the NBA with 3.5 blocks per game. He also averages 1.3 steals, as he is a playmaker defensively who can create turnovers and get his Spurs into the open court for easy baskets.

Irving is certainly a believer in the hype, as he thinks Wembanyama is deserving of the DPOY. Even if he doesn’t win the award this season, it would not be surprising if he takes home that hardware sometime in the near future.

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