NBA - But what can prevent Victor Wembanyama from being number one in the 2023 draft?

NBA – But what can prevent Victor Wembanyama from being number one in the 2023 draft?



It’s not a trend, it’s a certainty. In the United States, where he is eagerly awaited this week when he will play two exhibition matches with the Metropolitans 92 against the Ignite Team in Las Vegas, the experts are almost unanimous: Victor Wembanyama will be the number 1 of the NBA draft 2023. In the “mock-draft” of specialized sites, the French prodigy is the nugget not to be missed during the next vintage. His extraordinary physique is obviously no stranger to this between his 2m21 under the height gauge, or his 2m43 wingspan. But if he is so high in the projections, it is also and above all linked to what he manages to do with these exceptional measurements.

The “hype” around Wembanyama comes from this unique alloy between his physical attributes and his abilities on the ground. The new interior of the Metropolitans 92 has all the assets to become a major player. His presence under the circles is already a key weapon for his teams between his deterrence with his long segments but also his slaughter with rebounds. But it is not limited to that, far from it. Because if he is considered a “unicorn”, it is also because of his offensive skills. Very mobile and agile, Wembanyama has developed a unique technique for such a size.


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In addition to his amazing dexterity, he has a real mid-range and three-point shot. And the 18-year-old interior has a good vision of the game and a high basketball IQ which allows him to regularly distribute a few caviars. An explosive cocktail that makes you salivate across the Atlantic, where specialists have considered it for several years now as “the best prospect on the planet”, said Jonathan Givony, journalist at ESPN.

All were also convinced of his immense potential during the final of the U19 World Cup in 2021, where he dominated Chet Holmgren – the other “unicorn” drafted since as second choice last summer by the Thunder before seriously injured – despite the defeat of France against the United States (83-81). But then, what can prevent him from being called first next June by Adam Silver, the commissioner of the NBA?

Victor Wembanyama with the Metropolitans 92

Credit: Imago

. His body and the wounds

This is factor number 1. If there are few doubts about Victor Wembanyama’s ability to become a major player in terms of basketball, his physique questions observers a little more. Between a little frail – which is logical, given his age and size -, THE great hope of French basketball suffered some physical glitches last year with ASVEL. “I think he didn’t play three consecutive months in the season (due to several injuries, editor’s note). So it was difficult to give him a role“, lamented his former coach in Villeurbanne, TJ Parker.

During this 2022-23 season with the Mets 92, Wembanyama, who had to give up Euro 2022 due to injury, will have to sweep away these questions. “I haven’t had any serious injuries and everyone knows that coaching is the best in the NBA, light years from here. So for me there is no reason to worry“, replies the person concerned. But a new exercise marred by physical glitches could chill a franchise eager not to take too many risks with the number 1 choice.

. The Henderson “threat”

While Victor Wembanyama’s performance with the pros is enough to raise his rating a little more if he continues on the pace of his start to the LNB season (17.3 pts, 8 rebounds, 2 average blocks to start this season… ), it is not excluded to see another prodigy ignite in the coming months. And at the moment, we are thinking in particular of Scoot Henderson, whom the Frenchman will meet this week in Las Vegas during the two exhibition matches between the Metropolitans 92 and the Ignite Team.

The youngest player to sign a professional contract in the United States in basketball, the leader has already shown his qualities in the G-League, where he will play again this season. The buzz is real for a player who has already impressed at 17 against the pros thanks to his explosiveness and despite a shot to improve. Other profiles can also experience a season in comet mode to overtake everyone for this last pre-draft year. But to finish number 1, they will also have to rely on a lackluster season for the Wembanyama phenomenon.

. The Bargnani memory

Paolo Banchero having dual nationality, there has only been one draft number 1 from Europe so far: Andrea Bargnani, drafted by the Raptors in 2006. Landed from Benetton Treviso, the 2m13 Italian seemed to have all the cards in hand to become an NBA star. And if he signed some interesting statistical seasons during his 10 years in the League, to say that he did not weigh as expected is a mild understatement.

It’s the kind of memory that can play the draft, even if, since then, there have been reverse examples. In 2018, the Kings (who took Marvin Bagley in 2) and to a lesser extent the Suns (who had selected DeAndre Ayton in 1) could harbor some regrets for having let Luka Doncic slip away in third place, despite his performances as top flight with Real Madrid. And the double MVP of the League is still a European with such an atypical style: Nikola Jokic, who had been taken in 41st during the 2014 draft.


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