2023 NBA Draft’s No. 1 choose: Why many assume Victor Wembanyama is already locked in

On this myopic world, it is exhausting to not all the time consider the following factor or the following season. However relating to the NBA Draft, it makes all of the sense on the earth to already flip your eyes to 2023. The NBA has, and what it sees simply is likely to be its subsequent generational draft prospect, if not finally its subsequent nice star.

Victor Wembanyama is the headliner of the 2023 draft. That’s an understatement. He towers over it.

Wembanyama is an 18-year-old sensation out of France who’s broadly anticipated to be the No. 1 choose subsequent summer season. He will be the epitome of what the trendy NBA is changing into, as a 7-2 risk from in all places on the courtroom who may also present rim safety together with his easy motion and Mister Unbelievable size. He has already garnered main minutes taking part in for ASVEL, his skilled crew in France, as a young person and is prone to have an excellent bigger position subsequent season.

That is the draft prospect groups will place themselves for subsequent season as a result of he may change a franchise for a decade. If you have not heard of him but, here’s what you’ll want to know.

The numbers

Peak: 7-2
Wingspan: 7-9
EuroLeague stats: 13 video games. 17.5 minutes per recreation, 6.5 factors per recreation, 3.8 rebounds per recreation, 1.9 blocks per recreation, 34.8 % from the sphere, 30.3 % on 3-point makes an attempt, 66.7 % on free throws.

Although the statistics might not look that spectacular, simply know he is doing this at 18, towards gamers a decade or extra older than he’s, within the second-best league on the earth — not at Southern Miss or within the MAC. He scored 18 factors, hitting 4 of 5 3s, and grabbed six rebounds towards AX Armani Trade Milan — the league’s third-place crew — in April.

Wembanyama had 22 factors, eight rebounds, and eight blocks in a wonderful efficiency towards Group USA — which included Chet Holmgren and Jaden Ivey — within the FIBA ​​Below-19 World Cup. France misplaced, however simply 83-81, and Wembanyama was a team-high plus-7 in 27 minutes earlier than fouling out. He averaged 14 factors, 7.4 rebounds, and, in what seems to be like a statistical error, 5.7 blocked photographs throughout seven video games in simply 22.5 minutes per recreation.

“I do not actually give too many individuals credit score, however I give credit score to this man proper right here,” Holmgren stated afterward. “I believed I used to be tall, I believed I had lengthy arms, however he takes it to a complete different stage. He strikes nice. He is obtained a shot. He is obtained abilities too. He is gonna be a wealthy man sooner or later.”

For extra on what Wembanyama is able to, let’s flip to The Athletic’s NBA Draft analyst, Sam Vecenie.

Scouting report

Vicenie: Wembanyama is among the most spectacular prospects I’ve gotten an opportunity to see. His size is clearly outrageous and on par solely with guys like Rudy Gobert and Mark Williams within the NBA. Unsurprisingly, it makes him a terrific shot-blocker. He led the Euroleague in blocks this yr with 1.9 per recreation.

However what makes him really particular is he isn’t restricted to being a rim-runner and shot-blocker like these guys. All of it begins with stability. Wembanyama strikes like a man 5 inches shorter than he’s, with actual coordination. He isn’t very explosive, however his stability is wild for somebody with this type of size. It permits him to be an actual defender in area, in addition to to successfully rotate over from the weak facet. He is skinny, however he isn’t skinny like Holmgren, as he has a comparatively well-proportioned 235-pound body.

Wembanyama tasks to be an unbelievable defender. However his craziest stuff really tends to return on offense. He can take and knock down 3s with confidence, in addition to showcase some actual talent off the bounce as a straight-line driver. He is even flashed the power to hit stepback pull-up jumpers, once more showingcasing his coordination and stability. Guys this huge should not have the ability to have this type of influence at this stage.

When Wembanyama assaults closeouts off the bounce, he covers floor so shortly together with his strides that it is nearly inconceivable to remain in entrance. His lob radius is elite, as guards can simply throw it up wherever across the rim and he can out-high-point the ball towards almost anybody. He is nonetheless enhancing his consistency on this regard, however I do not know that I’ve ever seen somebody who has this type of size, coordination, contact and actual offensive talent.

What does he challenge out to be, and what’s his ceiling?

Vicenie: Wembanyama remains to be working by with the ability to influence the sport each single evening on offense. Protection, it is principally there, at the same time as an 18-year-old in an extremely tough league. On offense, he is undoubtedly nonetheless enhancing.

However with the flashes and instruments he reveals at his dimension, it is exhausting to not get forward of your self and assume he can flip right into a franchise participant in time. He is 7-foot-2 with elite size and nice shot-blocking instincts. He can defend in area. He can shoot from a distance. He can deal with the ball. I do not know that I’ve ever seen a participant who has these instruments accessible.

It’s price noting he is had a number of accidents. He missed the top of this season with ASVEL due to a muscle harm. He additionally had a bone bruise earlier this yr to his shoulder that pressured him out, and a finger harm additionally prompted him to overlook a few weeks. He missed a while again in late 2020 and early 2021 with a stress fracture. He might want to keep wholesome to achieve his ceiling. However it’s tough to say something apart from that Wembanyama’s ceiling is greater than that of anybody who has entered the league shortly. These instruments are simply so outrageous.

Is there an NBA comp you can also make for him?

Vicenie: It is nearly like watching Rudy Gobert if he was in a position to dribble, cross and shoot at an efficient NBA stage. That appears form of inconceivable, I do know. However that is what it is like watching Wembanyama. Hopefully, he stays wholesome and his physique permits him to achieve what’s an immensely excessive ceiling. He’ll unequivocally enter the season at No. 1 on NBA groups’ boards.

(Picture of Victor Wembanyama: Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto through AP)

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