Spurs’ Victor Wembanyama reacts to winning NBA Rookie of the Year

San Antonio Spurs forward Victor Wembanyama on Monday was named the 2023-24 NBA Rookie of the Year, becoming the sixth player in history to win the award unanimously.

Wembanyama became the first player to win the award outright since Karl-Anthony Towns in 2016 after receiving all 99 first-place votes from a global panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. He is the third player from the Spurs to win, joining David Robinson (1990) and Tim Duncan (1998).

The Frenchman finished with 495 total points in the final voting, topping the 295 votes received by Oklahoma City Thunder forward Chet Holmgren. Charlotte Hornets forward Brandon Miller finished in third place with 86 votes.

“My goal was always to help my team as best as I could and get better as the year went on,” Wembanyama told Ernie Johnson on “NBA on TNT” on Monday. “I knew that in order to do this, I had to be individually good and dominant on the court. It was a huge thing for me and a big thing to get. It has always been really important, and I’m glad it’s finally official.”

Wembanyama averaged 21.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 3.6 blocks and 1.2 steals in 71 games. He led the league in blocked shots and registered the most 30-point games (11) by a rookie since Trae Young in the 2018-19 season.

The 7-footer is the first player in history to record at least 1,500 points, 700 rebounds, 250 assists, 250 blocks and 100 3-pointers in a season. He is the second rookie to lead the league in blocks (Manute Bol, 1986) and is the 10th player to average 20 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.

Wembanyama, who is a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year, finished 22nd in steals. He also ranked second in defensive box plus-minus (plus-3.3), fifth in defensive win shares (4.4) and eighth in rebounds. He also had the most games with at least five blocks (24).

He explained to Kenny Smith how he improved throughout the year.

The simple stats, but also the advanced stats — everything pretty much got better. On my side, what I made big efforts on, is the playmaking, the shot selection. After the minutes restrictions I’ve had, I had to get back in good shape to play more than 30-35 minutes. The cardio, I think I’ve made huge improvements on. I’ve never gotten so much better in such a few months, so I’m really glad.

He achieved numerous other accomplishments, including becoming the youngest player in history to register a 5×5 game and recording a triple-double with blocks. He also became the first rookie since Shaquille O’Neal in 1993 to record 40 points and 20 rebounds in a game.

Tabbed an “alien” by LeBron James because of his unique size and skill set, Wembanyama entered the season with tremendous expectations. He exceeded them in his first year with the Spurs and established himself as a franchise cornerstone for years to come.

He believes there is still much to improve on entering the offseason.

“There is plenty of stuff I plan on working on,” Wembanyama told O’Neal. “Physically, of course, the work is never going to be done. I’ve had my plan for months ready for all of my body. We’re going to keep discovering new ways to get better and work on my body. For basketball, there is a lot I want to work on and (head coach Gregg Popovich) Pop wants me to work on, so I’m excited.”

Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire