There is a whole basketball season between now and the 2023 NBA Draft. However, it seems like we can already pencil in the top two picks for next season, no matter which teams’ ping pong balls come up. So, let the Scoot Henderson, Victor Wembanyama debate officially begin. Wembanyama is an absolute unicorn. He is an extremely tall (between 7-foot-2 and 7-foot-5, depending on reports) Frenchman with guard skills and three-point range. As of now, he is the no-doubt No. overall pick next year. However, don’t discount the Scoot Henderson NBA draft prospects. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound ball handler is the clear No, 2 prospect, and there are several reasons why Scoot Henderson must be the No. 1 pick over Victor Wembanyama in the 2023 NBA Draft.
4. Scoot Henderson beat Victor Wembanyama in their first head-to-head meeting
The reason the Scoot Henderson, Victor Wembanyama debate is starting nine months before the 2023 NBA draft kicks off is that the two future NBA stars met for the first time in an exhibition in Henderson, Nevada, on October 4, 2022.
Both top prospects showed up and showed out in the meeting, with Henderson’s G League Ignite beating Wembanyama’s Metropolitans 92 winning a double-overtime thriller, 122-115.
What are you willing to give up for Victor Wembanyama or Scoot Henderson to be on your team? 👀 pic.twitter.com/DMiGPq4jyx
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 5, 2022
Both players played incredibly well, Wembanyama led all scorers with 37 points and led his team back from a 71-52 halftime deficit. Henderson added 28 points, nine assists, and got the W for his team.
This was an exhibition game, and it’s impossible to compare the talent on a G League team and a French professional side. But Henderson did get the win and, for now, that should count for a little something ahead of the 2023 NBA Draft.
3. Guards are more of a sure bet than big men
Big men have dominated the NBA for decades, from Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain to Tim Duncan and Shaquille O’Neal to Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid. However, in recent years, taking a lead guard at the top of the draft has worked out better than taking a big.
Just look at recent top 3 comparisons like LaMelo Ball vs. James Wiseman, Ja Morant vs. Zion Williamson, and Luka Doncic vs. Deandre Ayton. And this year, there’s a good chance that No. 5 pick Jaden Ivey finds more success right away than Paolo Banchero, and we already know he’ll have a better rookie season than the out-for-the-year Chet Holmgren
In these cases, the big man went first, but the lead guard quickly became the better NBA player.
This isn’t a perfect recent trend. Evan Mobley might be better than Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green from the 2021 draft, but it is a development that NBA teams should consider before taking Victor Wembanyama No. 1 and discounting Scoot Henderson out of hand.
2. Championship teams need a primary ball handler
Teams considering drafting a lead guard over a big man at the top of the draft is one thing. But what about teams hoping for a championship one day?
Looking at recent NBA champions, the primary ball-handlers have been players like Stephen Curry, Jrue Holiday, Kyle Lowry, Kyrie Irving, and Tony Parker. The starting centers on these teams have been names like Kevon Looney, Brook Lopez, Marc Gasol, Dwight Howard, and Tristan Thompson.
Seeing that primary ball-handling guards are more important to championship teams than centers in the modern NBA, Scoot Henderson makes more sense as the No. 1 pick, all things being even.
Scoot Henderson was in his bag pic.twitter.com/DK8x12mfXJ
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) October 5, 2022
Now, the counterargument here is that Victor Wembanyama is more of a long wing than a center, even at 7-foot-3. If that’s the case, and Wembanyama falls into the category of skilled wings that have won championships lately — LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo — then you have a different argument where the Frenchman probably wins.
That said, there is one major difference between LeBron, Durant, Giannis, and Wembanyama.
1. Scoot Henderson and Victor Wembenyama’s bodies are very different
Scoot Henderson’s NBA draft No. 1 pick case has far less to do with the Georgia native and way more to do with Victor Wembanyama’s body.
Wembanyama is absolutely a unicorn. NBA fans have never seen a player with his height have his ball-handling skills, three-point range, and silky smooth movement. The closest thing to it is Kevin Durant, who is 7-foot (despite his 6-foot-10 claims). And Wembanyama is, at minimum, three inches taller!
The problem is, the history of players that big (and that skinny) isn’t good at all.
From Ralph Sampson to Yao Ming to Greg Oden, No. 1 picks over 7 feet haven’t often fared well in the NBA. Bodies that big just aren’t made for the rigors of professional basketball. We’re even seeing this again now, as 7-foot, 195-pound Chet Holmgren will already miss his rookie season with a foot injury.
When it comes to taking Scoot Henderson or Victor Wembanyama in the 2023 NBA Draft, teams will be tempted to go with the Frenchman’s upside, but Henderson is the much safer pick.