‘If You Can Get Buckets … It Doesn’t Matter How Strong You Are’ | Gilbert Arenas Says Victor Wembanyama’s Skinny Frame Won’t Matter

Last week’s No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft, Victor Wembanyama, is in San Antonio preparing for summer league with the Spurs and his upcoming rookie season. It was a no-brainer that he would go No. 1, but some are wondering if his slight frame will be a problem in the league. Former baller Gilbert Arenas said if Wemby can get buckets his skinny frame won’t matter.

“If you can get buckets, you can get buckets. It doesn’t matter how strong you are,” Arenas told Babcock on the TMZ Sports TV show. “He only has two people in the position that he’s going to be guarding, you got [Joel Embiid] and [Nikola Jokic]. That’s six games a year. That’s going to real tough for you. Other than that, there’s no one in your position. Everyone sucks. Everyone’s trash.”

Skinny Up

Wemby has heard the too skinny talk since he burst onto the international scene. When he spoke with ABC’s Robin Roberts ahead of the draft, he said others should “skinny up” instead of bulking up.

Many people still live in this antiquated sports world where bigger and bulkier means better. Wemby is 7 feet 5 and abnormally long for a league full of tall and long people. He’s been working with his physio and strength team for a while now. They have a plan and understand his specific body and its needs.

For someone of Wemby’s size, it’s much less about bulking up and more about hip and core strength. The pliability and flexibility of his muscles and limbs and his kinematic movements.

In 2007 a very skinny 6 foot 10 teenager from the University of Texas was still taken No. 2 overall in that year’s NBA draft, amid similar concerns of not having the body to play in the league. He was mocked for being the only draftee unable to bench press 185 pounds during the combine. That player has only gone on to become one of the greatest players of all time, arguably the greatest scorer the game has seen, and one of the defining players of a generation.

We’ve Seen Players Like This Succeed Before

In 2009 a skinny short guard from Davidson was seen as a college gimmick whose game would never translate to the NBA. Of course he’s the greatest shooter ever and literally revolutionized the game.

That’s not to say Wemby will be as good as Kevin Durant or Stephen Curry. But many people were convinced those two would never achieve all-time status because of their bodies. They were wrong.

What gives Wemby tremendous upside is the skill set he possesses at his size. If you add bulk to that, it will negate a lot of those advantages. He will gain muscle and weight as he continues to age (he’s only 19) and adjusts his workout routines.

Arenas went on to say the center position has a lot of undersized players and that’s where Wemby can feast.

“You have [Brook Lopez], undersized Al Horford, you got [Pascal Siakam,] they’re playing him at center now. You don’t have no one that’s really gonna challenge you and your size. For the most part you should be fine. You should be perfectly fine.”

Human nature is to think something is not possible when we haven’t seen it done before. But in Wemby’s case, we have seen enough reasonable examples of very skinny players finding success in the NBA.

Naturally, the first time he gets bullied on the block by Jokic or Embiid there will be memes all over social media mocking the young Frenchman. As though everyone else in the league doesn’t get bullied in some way or another.

The game has changed. It’s almost impossible to win in today’s NBA with big, musclebound centers. Height still matters, but you need to be agile, quick, and skilled. Skinny Wemby has all that and more.

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