Posted on: October 7, 2022, 05:13h.
Last updated on: October 7, 2022, 05:13h.
NBA scouts gushed about Victor Wembanyama, a 7-foot-4 big man prospect from France, but fans caught their first real glimpse of the future #1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft and the 18-year-old kid lived up to the hype during a pair of exhibition games in Las Vegas.
Wembanyama played with his French professional team, Metropolitan 92, against the Ignite of the NBA G-League. Wembanyama sizzled in his North American debut scoring 73 points, 15 rebounds, and nine blocks in two games of action. He knocked down 9-for-18 from 3-point range, and shot 50% overall from the floor.
Wembanyama scored 37 points in his debut on Tuesday, them added 36 points in his second game on Thursday.
He’s like an alien,” said LeBron James. “I’ve never seen, ahh, no one has ever seen anyone as tall as he is, but as fluid and as graceful as he is out on the floor. He’s for sure a generational talent.”
With Wembanyama getting the stamp of approval from King James himself, the real fun begins with as many as ten teams outright tanking for a chance to turn around their franchises with a “once in a generation” player like Wembanyama.
Wembanyama the Alien, Best Prospect Since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?
Scouts initially compared Wembanyama to Tim Duncan, but after the two games in Las Vegas this week, Wembanyama looks like a hybrid of Duncan and Kevin Durant. He’s also a heck of a defender and shot blocker.
“He’s like Rudy Gobert on steroids,” said Bill Simmons on The Lowe Post podcast.
Holy smokes, there are no words for it,” said Zach Lowe. “That’s why people are saying ‘Alien’ to describe Wembanyama. The superlatives are insufficient.”
Simmons said catching a glimpse of Wembanyama for the first time is like watching one of LeBron James’ high school games. There has not been this much excitement surrounding a teenager since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar dominated the New York City hoops scene at Power Memorial High School.
Kristaps Porzingis earned the nickname “The Unicorn” because he was a 7-foot-3 player from Latvia with a deadly 3-point shot and great ball-handling skills. However, scouts all agreed that Wembanyama is a far superior prospect. Heck, Wembanyama the Alien might be better than Porzingis the Unicorn right now.
“He has ability to put the ball on the floor, shoot step-back jumpers out of the post, step-back 3s, catch-and-shoot 3s, block shots,” added LeBron.
Tanking for Wembanyama
As much as the NBA tried to penalize teams from tanking, with the top three teams each getting a 14% chance at securing the #1 pick, it sure has not deterred teams from sucking on purpose. The New York Knicks were the last team to openly tank with a specific player in mind when they were hell bent on drafting Zion Williamson. The Knicks failed to hit the lottery and were stuck with the #3 pick that year, while the New Orleans Pelicans were awarded the #1 pick.
With all eyes on Wembanyama, there’s more incentive than ever to lose games. The widespread tanking this upcoming season will provide bad optics for the NBA, but it’s an amazing opportunity for gamblers to fade the teams in hot pursuit of Wembanyama.
Commissioner Adam Silver hopes that teams will maintain their integrity and try to win game despite the obvious bounty awaiting the team that hit the lottery.
I know that many of our NBA teams are salivating at the notion that potentially through our lottery, they can get him, so they should all still compete very hard next season,” said Silver.
If you’re not fighting for a playoff spot, it would be foolish to not take a shot at winning the Wembanyama lottery. Expect teams to tank such as the Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Orlando Magic, Indiana Pacers, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons, and Sacramento Kings.
Gregg Popovich from the San Antonio Spurs coached Duncan and won multiple NBA titles with him, so he’d love to add the next Duncan to his lackluster squad. Even teams that are not high on European prospects are giddy about Wembanyama.