In his much-anticipated American debut, French teenage basketball phenom Victor Wembanyama did not disappoint. The 7-foot-4 big man scored 37 points, grabbed four rebounds, and had five blocks. He went 7 of 11 from three in a 122-115 loss to the G League Ignite team and fellow projected 2023 NBA draft lottery pick Scoot Henderson. Wembanyama’s agent said NBA personnel are telling him to shut the big man down until the draft.
“NBA people are telling me to shut him down, and we are not going to shut him down,” Bouna Ndiaye told ESPN on Wednesday. “If we came with that kind of talk to [Wembanyama], he will look at us and say, ‘What are you talking about?’ He’ll never agree to that. He wants to compete and get better. With Victor, it’s basketball first and everything else second. He was so pissed off that he lost.”
Victor Wembanyama is a one-of-a-kind hooper!
🦄 37 PTS, 4 REB, 5 BLK, 7 3PM pic.twitter.com/jc3Jz6SLio
— NBA (@NBA) October 5, 2022
For as good as Wembanyama looked, let’s slow down on the Hall of Fame acceptance speech. He was lost a bit at times on defense despite his five blocked shots. The NBA is a heavy pick and roll league, and he needs to understand the intricacies of defending that set. For as tall as he is, he needs to develop a stronger base so he can be better positioned to grab rebounds.
In his matchup with Henderson, the guard came out and attempted to show that he is worthy of the No. 1 pick in 2023. He led Ignite to a 71-52 halftime lead. But Wembanyama came out after halftime and dominated to drag his Metropolitans 92 into a brief lead in the fourth quarter. They ultimately lost, but he showed a very high compete level.
“I’m gonna tell you something that’s been going on in my life, like for my whole life, since I’ve been a kid, even before I played basketball,” Wembanyama said. “I’ve always tried to do (something) different. I’m not even talking about sports, whatever. Any field, I’m always trying to be original, something original, something one of one, something that’s never been done before. And this is really how it worked in my life. I don’t know where it comes from. I think I was born with it. I’ve always been trying to be original. Unique, that’s the word. My goal is to be like something you’ve never seen.”
He doesn’t lack confidence, which no player that is projected to be the No. 1 pick and is touted as the best prospect since LeBron James should be missing.
NBA front office executives were very pleased with what they saw from both prospects on Tuesday evening. These two appear to be the best players in the 2023 NBA draft as of right now.
“He’s a 7-foot-4 Durant who blocks shots,” said a GM on a team with a chance to contend for the 2023 No. 1 overall pick. “And he’s not even close to what he’s going to be. He will be the most hyped player since LeBron.”
Still, we have a long way to go before we get there. Right now it’s about Wembanyama continuing to develop, improve, and deal with the ups and downs of the game. But so far, so good.
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