Victor Wembanyama is a name NBA fans will know well over the next year, even before he becomes the first overall selection in the 2023 NBA Draft.
(And if he – against all odds – wasn’t the first pick, the NBA will have another situation with Luka Dončić, as he was selected third in 2018 when he was clearly the best prospect in the entire draft at the time.)
Wembanyama is a great all-round center, who plays like a goalkeeper. How tall is the 18-year-old Frenchman? We won’t know exactly until he’s measured in the draft. He’s currently listed at 7’3, but some in the industry wonder if he’s closer to 7’5.
The level of talent
What makes Wembanyama such a generational talent, you might be wondering. After all, he averaged just 9.4 points and 5.1 rebounds last season for ASVEL in the French LNB Pro A league, and 6.5 points and 3.8 rebounds in the Euroleague.
Well, there is the first mistake. Statistics in Europe are historically not a good indicator of future success, particularly due to the low number of minutes players tend to play. It’s not uncommon for stars to play no more than 23-25 minutes per game. Wembanyama, in the French league game, received 18.4 minutes per game, which now contrasts just how impressive his line was, especially considering he played the majority of the season as a 17-year-old.
As such, let’s adjust his LNB numbers to Per36-minute, which gives us a more accurate estimate of what he would have produced had he received NBA starter minutes.
18.4 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.7 steals and 3.5 blocks.
Much better, right?
But these statistics still don’t tell the whole story. 50 of his 131 shot attempts came from downtown, hurting his effectiveness. Wembanyama hit 26% of his outside attempts but converted 60.5% on all his two-point shots.
It should be noted that Wembanyama also took three points in various ways. He had the ability to scout, dribble in three-point attempts and even step back occasionally. For a player who is (at least) 7’3, this is absolutely absurd.
Defensively, Wembanyama projects to be the elite at every level, even to the point where he could have a similar impact to Rudy Gobert, one of the greatest defenders in the history of the game. Wembanyama is said to have a wingspan of 7’10 , and he makes good use of it. He has the ability to both keep his own man and ward off opponents’ shots, everything at once.
His fluidity on the perimeter, where he is already far superior to Gobert, allows him to change frequently and stay effectively with smaller players. Obviously, he can’t be tasked with guarding players such as Stephen Curry or Ja Morant for longer periods of time, but he can come out to cover high and still have time to get back to his man near the edge.
In fact, Wembanyama’s future NBA head coach will be able to adapt a defense entirely around the center.
Offensively, he is much more than a shooter. Because of his size, he’s an obvious lob target and rim roll, but the fun doesn’t stop there. He is currently learning the counter moves in the position and seems determined to use his height advantage near the rim to push forward, thus unafraid of the fact that he is incredibly tall.
It will take a few years for Wembanyama to fill its frame. He currently weighs between 200 and 210 pounds, which is basically the weight level for an average 6’3 point guard. He will need to add around 40-50 pounds, which is not quite unlike what Giannis Antetokounmpo did, to reach his peak physical condition.
Luckily, his physique and broad shoulders should be able to handle such body expansion.
NBA Future and Prospect
Wembanyama changed teams this summer, moving from ASVEL to Metropolitans 92. He suffered quite a few injuries at ASVEL, missing the playoffs last season because of them, and seems to prefer a fresh start near Paris, as he focuses on his development. , and probably what will be the last year before joining the NBA.
The teams all know the big Frenchman very well, and some – like the San Antonio Spurs – are preparing for a bad season to essentially tank him. Of course, nothing is guaranteed as even the worst team in the league only has a 14% chance of winning the lottery. That said, don’t be surprised if more teams decide to go all-in on the ping pong balls near the trade deadline, when they realize they have no fighting chance for a header. of a Top 6 series and a secure spot in the playoffs.
Also, don’t be surprised if teams loaded with future first-round picks offer most of them in trade scenarios. Wembanyama is a once-in-a-lifetime prospect who could conceivably turn the tide of a team by becoming one of the most productive two-way centers in all of basketball.
Unless otherwise stated, all statistics via NBA.com, PBPStats, Clean the glass Where Basketball-Reference. All salary information via spotrac. All odds via FanDuel Sports Betting.