French big man Victor Wembanyama is widely regarded as a generational talent and is likely to be selected first overall in the 2023 NBA draft. Wembanyama saw action for French pro team Metropolitans 92 as they faced G League Ignite today. Ignite won, 122-115, led by another top prospect, Scoot Henderson.
The 6’2 Henderson finished with 28 points on 11-of-21 shooting. He also added nine assists and five rebounds, while the 7’4 Wembanyama had 37 points on 11-of-20 shooting including 7-of-11 from three. He also had four rebounds and five blocks.
Wembanyama and Henderson are at the top of the great majority of NBA Mock Draft boards, and they showed why in this game.
Henderson represents some of the most difficult competition Wembanyama has encountered to date. The former consensus five-star prospect from Marietta, Georgia, opted to join the G League last year instead of toiling in the US NCAA. He put up an excellent performance and established himself as one of the leading names in his class.
As for Wembanyama, some consider him the finest overall prospect since LeBron James in 2003. That’s extremely high praise for the French product, but it’s also well-deserved when you consider the supremacy he’s built over a multi-year period. To illustrate, Wembanyama averaged 18.4 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.7 steals, and 3.5 blocks per 36 minutes last season with French pro squad ASVEL, which was owned by former San Antonio Spurs point player Tony Parker.
Given this context, here are four reasons why Victor Wembanyama must be the No. 1 pick over Scoot Henderson in the 2023 NBA Draft.
4. Wembanyama protects the rim well
It’s simple to understand why Victor Wembanyama is a generational talent just by looking at him. He stands 7’4 and has a wingspan of about 8 feet. Human beings really don’t get much bigger and longer than that, folks.
The defensive potential for a player of his size is obvious. The difference he can make on that end of the floor is enormous. If he isn’t able to stop a shot, he is at least altering it and limiting any opponent’s chances of converting.
In fact, during the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup, he averaged over six blocks per game against some of the world’s finest young players.
Wembanyama should also be successful as a help-side defender since he moves effectively in the paint. He’s famous for blocking shots from players he’s not even guarding. The native of Nanterre, France possesses exceptional lateral agility and the ability to move his feet quickly. As a result, Wembanyama also excels on the perimeter and has shown to be an efficient defender even of guards and wings.
On the other hand, Henderson, at just 6’2 won’t really be considered an NBA-level rim protector.
3. Wembanyama has great ball-handling for his size
Due to his size, Victor Wembanyama will surely be classified as a center. However, anyone who’s watched him knows he possesses guard abilities and can play anywhere on the court.
In today’s game against Ignite, in fact, Wembanyama showcased his uncanny handles. In one play, he brought down the ball before crossing over to the middle and spinning back to his left for a basket.
— Mick Akers (@mickakers) October 5, 2022
That’s the kind of skill that has scouts drooling left and right. It was the type of sequence you’d expect from a ball-handling marvel like Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic, if Doncic were 7’4, of course.
In addition to his dribbling skills, Wembanyama also boasts a terrific around-the-rim game and even some perimeter shooting, which we’ll discuss next…
2. Wembanyama can score from anywhere
Victor Wembanyama is an offensive unicorn. His three-point shot still needs work, but most scouts are confident that he will develop into a reliable shooter from beyond the arc. His movements are also fluid and smooth.
Wembanyama is not only comfortable in spot-up situations as a shooter, but he has also become more ready to try tough triples. The 7-footer has the ability to knock it down off the bounce, fade away, or pull up. He has a high release point, allowing him to fire above anyone without affecting his shot. Again, the mechanics are sound. All he needs now is more consistency.
Victor Wembanyama with the quick step-back 3 from the corner 🎯 pic.twitter.com/lLToBv0Ukb
— BasketballNews.com (@basketbllnews) October 5, 2022
At his stature, Wembanyama is not only a floor spacer, but he can also score in the paint. He possesses a delicate touch around the rim but can also dunk on almost anyone. The 7-footer possesses a sophisticated post-game, with a variety of moves to obtain a clear look at the basket. Wembanyama is not just bigger than everyone else, but he also possesses superb post moves.
In the pick-and-roll, the 18-year-old phenom is lethal, too. As a roll guy or even when popping at the next level, he should be a nightmare for defenders. Wembanyama’s lob radius is out of this world, making life simple for guards directing the play.
1. Wembanyama is already a seasoned pro
Take note as well that Victor Wembanyama has been a professional for three seasons, most recently with ASVEL in France, a team owned by San Antonio Spurs great Tony Parker. He joined Metropolitans this year in part to be coached by French national team play-caller Vincent Collet.
Wembanyama is a very clever player who processes the game at a high level, in addition to his intangibles and talent. While he isn’t up against the top competition at the moment, the quickness with which he can make reads and judgments is astounding.
In a recent interview, coach Collet explained his team’s meticulous treatment of the player he deems “the finest potential we’ve ever had in French basketball.”
“We have a meeting with a doctor to plan his program for the next month,” Collet told NBC Sports. “We focus on strengthening his body and not making him work too much. He isn’t like a normal player, so you must be careful.”
There is no doubt that Victor Wembanyama will be among the elite prospects in the 2023 NBA Draft, and he should go No. 1 overall even other someone as talented as Scoot Henderson.