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French rookie Wemby a mid-season sales star for NBA

Victor Wembanyama of the San Antonio Spurs. Photo: Ronald Cortes / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

French rookie sensation Victor Wembanyama of the San Antonio Spurs has been an NBA souvenir sales star according to mid-season rankings released Tuesday by the league.

The 20-year-old 7-foot-4 (2.24m) center has averaged 20.6 points and 10.1 rebounds this season for the Spurs, who rank last in the Western Conference at 10-37.

But Wembanyama, last year’s top pick in the NBA Draft, has been a money-spinner in NBA online sales according to the NBA figures, which included no sales totals, only relative rankings.

“Wemby” rated fourth on the list of most popular jerseys by sales. That’s the highest spot on the list by an NBA newcomer since Latvian Kristaps Porzingis was a rookie with New York in the 2015-16 season.

The only players ranked ahead of the Frenchman on the jersey sales list are leader Stephen Curry, a four-time NBA champion with Golden State, Boston’s Jayson Tatum in a career-best second place and Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, a four-time NBA champion and four-time Most Valuable Player.

Wembanyama’s popularity helped the Spurs finish ninth overall in team merchandise sales, the first time San Antonio has cracked the top 10 since the 2017-18 campaign, when the Spurs were coming off a run to the Western Conference final the prior campaign.

The Spurs haven’t won a playoff series since 2017 and haven’t reached the playoffs since 2019.

Behind Wembanyama on the jersey sales list were two other European stars: Greek big man Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee in fifth and Slovenian guard Luka Doncic of Dallas in sixth.

They were followed by Phoenix teammates Devin Booker and Kevin Durant, Philadelphia’s Tyrese Maxey in ninth and Milwaukee’s Damian Lillard in 10th.

In team merchandise sales, the Lakers set the pace followed in order by Boston, Golden State, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Chicago, Phoenix, New York, the Spurs and Dallas.

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