Giannis and Wembanyama shone for Africa in Embiid's absence from the NBA in March

ByLeonard Solms ESPN logo
Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Giannis Antetokounmpo was the star of the show among African players in March's NBA action, but Victor Wembanyama edged closer to joining him and Joel Embiid in the conversation for the best Africa-connected player in the league right now.

Meanwhile, Rui Hachimura, Bam Adebayo, Pascal Siakam and Dennis Schröder were among the other players of African descent who had memorable moments in March.

African MVP for March

Despite the Milwaukee Bucks' mixed results in March, Greek-Nigerian forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was still the continent's most outstanding player for the past month.

Antetokounmpo averaged 31.8 PPG and 13.4 RPG in March - his best rebounding month of the season and his second-best scoring month, behind only December.

Of the 11 games he featured in over the past month, the Bucks won six. While he and Wembanyama have shone on an individual level this season, their respective teams have struggled for consistency.

Wembanyama only got four wins out of 12 games he played in for the San Antonio Spurs in March, but he continues to cement his status not only as the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year honors, but also as a genuine contender for Defensive Player of the Year.

In March, Wembanyama averaged 23.2 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 4.8 APG and 3.9 BPG. His most outstanding game was against the New York Knicks as he posted 40 points, 20 rebounds, 7 assists and a block.

That impressive performance was a contender for our Moment of the Month, but ultimately, Bam Adebayo took the honors in that category.

Africa's Him Moment of the Month

Bam Adebayo's buzzer-beating three-pointer against the Detroit Pistons was the greatest single moment from an African player in March.

Adebayo, who is of Nigerian heritage on his father's side, is averaging 19.8 PPG and 10.7 RPG for the Miami Heat this season at the time of writing. His March statistics were not particularly outstanding, but his clutch three-pointer against the Pistons was as influential as moments come as the Heat sealed a 104-101 win.

Most improved player of the Month

Rui Hachimura was born in Toyama, Japan. However, his father, Zakari Jabil, is from Benin.

March was an outstanding month on a personal level for Hachimura as he saw a season-high 31.6 minutes per game for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Making the most of the increased playing time handed to him by Lakers coach Darvin Ham, Hachimura averaged 17.3 PPG and 4.9 RPG in March. The Lakers are 6-1 in their last seven games and are gaining momentum towards the end of the season, just as they did last year.

Honorable mentions

The Brooklyn Nets' Dennis Schröder, who is of Gambian descent, also warrants a mention for his impressive form in March, as he averaged 16.2 PPG and 6.6 APG for the Brooklyn Nets.

One of the surprise performances of the month came from Angola's Bruno Fernando, who scored 25 points and posted 6 rebounds for the Atlanta Hawks in their 132-91 win over the Charlotte Hornets.

Another player who showed flashes of brilliance was Bol Bol for the Phoenix Suns, but a lack of consistency continues to hamper the son of South Sudanese legend Manute Bol, one of the pioneers for African players in the NBA.

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