He is 7’4”. He plays as a guard. And it’s coming to a terrible NBA team near you.
The draft community talks a lot about prospects, but it’s hard to overstate just how awfully good Victor Wenbanyama looks like he’s going to be.
The French 18-year-old has been in the picture as the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA draft for some time now, and a brilliant display against No. 2 prospect Scoot Henderson on Wednesday on ESPN only fueled that fire.
Watch Ignite’s Scoot Henderson and Mets 92’s Victor Wembanyama go head-to-head LIVE Friday at 6:00 EDT with ESPN on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
“Anywhere between 120 and 150 scouts” were in Las Vegas to watch the exhibition game between Wenbanyama’s Metropolitans 92 and Henderson’s G-League Ignite, according to ESPN’s Marcus J. Spears, and the contest lived up to the billing.
Wembanyama finished with 37 points (55% shooting), five blocks and four rebounds, while Henderson had 28 points (52.3% shooting), five rebounds and nine assists. FYI, Henderson’s team won and will play again on Friday (6am AEDT).
But it was Wembanyama, lurking around the court as if Gumby had been injected with the substance that made the stars of Space Jam, who got all the plaudits.
NBA stars like Chris Paul and Devin Booker, WNBA guns Chelsea Gray and A’ja Wilson, and top executives from tank clubs like San Antonio’s RC Buford and Oklahoma City’s Sam Presti, while others raved about the French teenager online.
“Sources: Utah set to forfeit all 82 games,” Bill Simmons jokedpointing to Jazz’s sudden collapse just in time to try and land Wembanyama.
Tim Reynolds of the AP wrote, “He blocked shots at the rim and on the perimeter, grabbed rebounds, ran the floor, set screens, scored with a nifty spin move, showed off his ability to dribble, dive for the loose ball and even make plays.” defender on one possession.
“Oh, and that was all in the first two minutes.
Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today compared him to Giannis Antetokounmpo.
“But don’t forget that it took Antetokounmpo to become who he is today. This gives Wembanyama much more training and development from an early age with high level clubs,” wrote Zillgitt.
“Generational is the word used to describe Wembanyama.
Born in France, Wembanyama is only 18 years old, but he’s been on the NBA’s radar for at least four years now because he has an impressive skill set for his size — he’s between 7-2 and 7-5 depending on where you look. He made his professional debut at the age of 15 for the second-tier French team and at the age of 16 he made his debut in the top French professional team.
“His stats aren’t always eye-popping, but you have to remember that European professional leagues don’t give young players minutes easily.” He only played 18.5 minutes per game last season, but that will increase this season. It’s what he’s capable of that impresses the scouts.”
While the NBA has evened out the lottery odds to try to avoid tanking, Wenbanyama is an incredible reason to try for the best chance at the No. 1 pick. (And Henderson, for what it’s worth, is an insanely good No. 2 prospect.)
San Antonio and Houston will clearly be awful again, while Indiana and Orlando should be among the wreckage of the East. Maybe Detroit will join the latter, but they should finally take a step forward this season; Sacramento will hope he does as well, though they’ve had that hope for roughly two decades.
Oklahoma City might be sneakily good with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander plus Josh Giddey and Chet Holmgren, but still bad overall, while Utah, which traded Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, will also be at the bottom of the West.
In fact, those teams we just mentioned are Wenbanyama contenders unless someone else really falls apart next year.
Which means that even if they don’t win anything on the court, they can get their biggest win off the court all season.
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