Victor Wembanyama is a name you’ve probably heard at least once or twice if you follow the NBA religiously. He’s an exciting young prospect with the frame and skill set to transform any team that gets him. His unicorn-like skillset already has teams tanking to get him as the first overall pick of the 2023 Draft.
The most dedicated NBA fans at OKBET understand how transcendent of a basketball talent Wembanyama is. This article will deliver a detailed profile of the 18-year-old phenom and why he’s the next can’t-miss European prospect of the 2023 Class since Luka Doncic.
The past couple of seasons spoiled NBA fans with outstanding physical specimens for basketball players. From Zion Williamson’s explosiveness to Chet Holmgren’s lean, lanky frame, we have become used to physically gifted players who are incredibly talented with shooting the ball.
However, not one athlete in the league can stand up to Victor Wembanyama’s physical specs. The Frenchman would be one of the league’s tallest if he were a part of the 2022 Class. Various reports list him anywhere from 7’2” to 7’4”, and Boban is one of the league’s tallest trees at 7’3”.
His eight-foot wingspan will also be a problem for teams who won’t be drafting the 18-year-old. If you look up his YouTube highlights, you can see how he effectively uses his length to beat stepbacks and block shots.
Another impressive aspect of his game is his speed. Men his size usually find it difficult to race up and down the court; Filipino fans who regularly watch Kai Sotto play are painfully familiar with this. However, Wemby is an entirely different beast from his lumbering counterparts. His graceful runs and quick lateral movement allow him to keep up with speedier guards and defend the rim easily.
Scouts are already drooling over Wembanyama’s abilities as a prospect since two seasons ago. However, his step up in production this year pretty much sealed his position as the first overall pick.
His numbers skyrocketed across the board as he showed off for Metropolitans. He’s averaging an incredible 23.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.5 steals, and 3.1 blocks through 11 games. He’s also leading the LNB Pro A—France’s pro basketball league—in points, rebounds, and rating (26.5).
His growth already earned him plaudits. He won the 2022 LBA Pro A title with ASVEL, was named the league’s Best Young Player twice (2021-22), and won the silver medal during the 2021 FIBA Under-19 World Cup and 2019 U16 European Championship.
The fact that he’s performing this well against professional hoopers at 18 years of age is an incredible sight for scouts, GMs, and fans. To further drive the point home, the last European prospect who dominated this way against European players was a charming Slovenian named Luka Doncic.
While his stats and physical attributes are enough to make teams want to tank, there’s nothing like looking at how the 18-year-old giant plays to assess whether he’s the real deal or not. Those who have seen him play understand that his arrival will rock the league.
The first thing you’ll notice is his shooting form. His motion is fluid and quick, and his release point is high. The ball also has a nice arc when it leaves his hands. It’ll be hard to block his shot since he also jumps pretty high for a man of his size.
He has great defensive instincts and knows how to use his physical gifts well. He has a homing instinct when it comes to blocking the ball. He also has the explosiveness to climb up and swat shots quickly.
He shows energy when defending and is willing to stick to smaller guards. While he still has to improve his on-the-ball defense, he maximizes his athletic gifts to erase lazy layup attempts.
He is a great pick-and-pop player, and you can tell that he also has the potential to become a deadly option during pick-and-roll situations. He’s excellent at catching lobs and finishing inside with power and finesse. His craftiness also gets him foul calls that he easily converts to points with his 74% free throw shooting.
While he’s a can’t-miss prospect, Wembanyama is not without his flaws. He’ll likely have a considerable adjustment period once he enters the league. He needs to address the following to fulfill his Hall-Of-Fame potential.
The first—and most obvious—point for improvement is his frame. Two-hundred and twenty-nine pounds is the perfect weight for a wing, not a 7’3” behemoth. He needs to add muscle to his frame to hold his ground against the league’s more physical players. Strengthening his body will also protect him from injuries that stopped great bigs like Yao Ming from reaching their potential.
Another issue some coaches may have with his game is his reluctance to attack the rim. They noticed that he’s often taking outside shots when he could take the ball inside for and-one opportunities.
Finally, he’s still not quick enough to deal with fast guards. During Metropolitans’ game against G-League Ignite, Scoot Henderson showcased how Wembenyama struggles to keep up with uber-athletic guards. The NBA is full of such athletes, and he needs to learn how to deal with them fast.
Wemby has everything that teams want out of a potential building block: he’s tall, quick, a great shooter, and a great kid with the right personality to thrive. He can enter the Hall Of Fame when all’s said and done, given his God-given gifts.
The question is how he will get used by the team that gets him first overall. A Hall Of Fame basketball career requires luck as much as it does skills. Suppose Wembanyama ends up with a team that knows how to maximize his talents. In that case, he will have a long and successful career ahead of him.