The 2022 NBA Draft took place just a few days ago, and it was a loaded class. The night was headlined by three unicorns; Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren, and Jabari Smith Jr. All of these players boast 6’10″+ frames, diverse offensive talents, and immense defensive potential.
There’s almost no doubt in my mind that all of them will become All-Stars one day. And yet, there’s someone else that looms on the horizon. Someone taller. Someone with an even more refined offensive game. And someone with even more length and defensive ability.
That someone is Victor Wembanyama.
This 18-year-old French superstar stands 7’2″, weighs 229 lbs, and has a wingspan rumored to be 7’9″. He’s played in the EuroLeague for LDLC ASVEL, as well as France’s national squad. Draft scouts have had their eyes on him for years, but the public doesn’t know enough about this freak of a prospect.
In 2021, Wembanyama played in the U19 Fiba World Cup. France made the championship, losing to the United States in a tight contest, 83-81. In a game against the likes of top 2022 prospects Chet Holmgren and Jaden Ivey, Wembanyama absolutely stole the show. He put up 22 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 blocks while going 9-9 from the free-throw line. Wembanyama was just 17 years old at the time.
“I thought I was tall, I thought I had long arms, but he takes it to a whole other level.”Chet Holmgren on Victor Wembanyama
As a reminder, Chet Holmgren is a #2 overall pick who is listed as 7’1″. He’s a freak of nature standing next to an even wilder freak of nature. That’s not the only NBA talent Wembanyama has gone toe-to-toe with, as he went viral for his success in a 1v1 with French star Rudy Gobert.
Wembanyama is by far the best prospect in the 2023 class, and I can guarantee you that won’t change in the next year. He is a generational talent, and I’d label him the best NBA prospect since LeBron James. Yes, you read that right. Here’s why.
Wembanyama has all the skills typical of an NBA big man. He has a good post game on offense. On the defensive side of the ball, he blocks a ton of shots with his incredible wingspan. The only real way he could improve is by beefing up his slender frame, but he’s still quite productive on the boards in his current shape. So, he really lacks no traditional element of a big man. The reason he’s so special is what he does that isn’t typical of a big man.
All video is from The Scouting Rapport on YouTube, all video is compiled from one game
It’s not insanely uncommon to find a big man who can shoot in the league today, but it’s tough to find a center who’s so good at it. He’ll be a threat from three on day one of his NBA career. Keep in mind that he’s also phenomenal from the charity stripe.
Wembanyama is incredibly mobile on the defensive end. In this clip, he moves from the top of the key all the way down to the post in the blink of an eye to reject a shot. The only player I’ve ever seen with this type of defensive movement and versatility is Giannis Antetokounmpo.
As you can see, Wembanyama can absolutely fly down the floor. In the shown video, he strides down center court to catch a lob from his teammate. Again, the only player that can really do this in the league today is Giannis.
Here’s what Wembanyama has over Giannis. His offensive game is infinitely more refined than Antetokounmpo’s was when he entered the league. It’s not even a stretch to say Wembanyana’s game is more nuanced than Giannis’s game today. Here, Wembanyana hits the defender with a lethal hesi-cross to pump-fake combo. He misses the pull-up, but his uniqueness is still on display.
And this is the film from only a single game. If you look up any of his highlight videos, I’m sure you’ll pick up another trait you don’t see every day. He’s an unreal talent that will dominate the league for many years.