On Thursday night, the 2023 NBA Draft is going to be started out by the San Antonio Spurs selecting Victor Wembanyama first overall. Wembanyama, who played for Metropolitans 92 in the French Betclic Elite League in the 2022-23 campaign, will be yet another international player destined for NBA stardom. That is becoming commonplace in the Association these days.
Wembanyama could be a legendary player, and if he can remain healthy, he looks to be a player who could end up being the unicorn of all unicorns. With his mix of size, skill, shooting touch, rim protection, fluidity, agility, shot creation and playmaking abilities, he has eventualy face of the league written all over him.
Wembanyama looks to truly be unlike anything we’ve ever seen in the NBA, and as his frame fills out gradually over time, he should only get better and better.
With that being said, while he has such a rare combination of size, skill and two-way polish already, the Wembanyama-Spurs situation naturally has the feel of when LeBron James was set to be selected No. 1 back in 2003 by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Wembanyama might just be The Chosen One 2.0, if you will.
The Wembanyama situation is so similar to back when LeBron James was drafted No. 1.
When LeBron James was taken by the Cavs, it was apparent he was going to be a game-changer from the get-go, and that he was such a rare player, even as far as consensus No. 1 picks were concerned.
James even then was a prospect whose blend of size, strength, athleticism, playmaking, versatility, basketball IQ and defensive prowess made it all seem he was truly next up, and there was so much hype surrounding him. The overall takeaway was, regardless of the Akron-Cleveland connection, that he was going to change the landscape of the NBA and was a generational talent who had a GOAT-level ceiling.
LeBron was as close to a sure thing a prospect had been, and has been, and though he has to realistically take strides to get functionally stronger, Wembanyama feels bust-proof, too. And he also seems destined to be a player who noticeably changes the league.
Wembanyama is a 19-year-old, 7-foot-4 big who is truly going to be a cheat code.
He has post polish with his touch and self creation there with fadeaways, hooks and other counters, showed mid-range shooting abilities, and with his length, coordination and timing, is an insanely gifted finisher.
He’s a constant lob threat but also from the outset, should be the Spurs’ primary option. That’s with his combination of interior play and his capability to create his own offense from pull-ups, stepbacks in the in-between game, and for how he could be able to bend defenses with how he can get to the basket and simply shoot over smaller guys. He had 21.6 points per contest, connected on 56.1 percent of his two-point looks, which were a diversified shot diet, and he did convert on 82.8 percent of his free throw attempts.
Granted, Wembanyama has to get better as a deep shooter, as he hit 27.5 percent of his three-point shot attempts this now-past season, and he did have more turnovers than assists. However, Wembanyama’s shooting motion is much-improved, he still showcased plenty of movement shooting potential, and as he gets stronger and feasibly takes further strides with his on-ball perimeter skills, it’ll unlock more of his playmaking abilities.
Defensively, his rim protection qualities will make him have a considerable impact from the jump as well, and he has the makings of a top-end switchable big, too, if he can improve laterally a bit. His length there will be humungous for the San Antonio defense, either way, and he’ll gobble up rebounds on both ends so easily.
Overall, though, with his wide-ranging skill set, generational talent level and with him not being a player the league has seen before, Wemby’s situation with the Spurs coming into the NBA is so similar to that of LeBron’s back when he was taken first by the Cavs.
Even with there being so much hype coming into the league for LeBron, he’s more than lived up to it over his 20-year career to this point, and that’s saying something. He’s my GOAT NBA player.
Meanwhile, Wemby has at or near the same level of hype coming into his career. Will he live up to it and remain healthy?
Time will tell, but it will be so fun to watch him, Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell and company play and try to bring back the Spurs to dynastic levels.