You may not have heard of Victor Wembanyama, but in a year he will be a household name. The 19-year old from France is the most sought after NBA prospect in decades and has the most hype around him since LeBron James.
Today’s NBA big men do not play like Shaquille O’Neal or Patrick Ewing. They are hybrid players, built leaner with the ability to shoot jumpers and stretch the floor. The forwards and centers that are dominant now have a unique skillset, think Kevin Durant, Nikola Jokic, and of course Joel Embiid.
Well let me introduce you to Victor Wembanyama, a 7-foot-3 inch “center”, although I put his position in quotes as he is the most position-less player in basketball today. In NBA circles, the things being said about Wembanyama are almost unbelievable. He sounds like an alien or a myth.
He can shoot the ball from Steph Curry range. His height allows him to shoot over defenders like Kevin Durant. He defends the basket like Wilt Chamberlain. If he was in the NBA today he would be a top 10 player in the league. His floor is a 10-time NBA All-Star and his ceiling is the greatest player to ever step on a basketball court.
Just listen to Giannis Antetokounmpo talk about Wembanyama. And remember Giannis is likely the best player in the NBA right now and aptly lives up to his nickname of “The Greek Freak”.
To decipher what of the hype is hyperbole and what is not is the difficult part. But to get that kind of praise from Giannis carries some weight. Wembanyama plays professionally in France, which has a relatively good professional basketball league, but nothing is comparable to the NBA.
Victor Wembanyama could join Sixers’ Joel Embiid in select group of elite NBA bigs
Next year, Wembanyama will have to be playing against Giannis, Jokic, and Embiid. Giannis and Jokic have won all four of the last four NBA Most Valuable Player awards and Embiid has been right there in the conversation as well. Basically, we will know from day one if Wembanyama has what it takes to compete with the league’s best.
For a league that has gone away from the ‘conventional’ big man, this new era of big men is dominating the league and Wembanyama will be another impressive addition to this mix. With Jokic and Giannis at 27 years old and Embiid at 28, it is likely Wembanyama could add to a big-man rivalry that never ceases to impress when competing against each other.
There is also the outside possibility that Embiid and Wembanyama team up on France’s national team at the 2024 Olympics in Paris. Embiid has both French and American citizenship and will have the option to decide which team he plays for in 2024. Just imagine the possibility of Embiid, one of the most dominant big men in the game today, alongside a player in Wembanyama that people are ready to crown a potential future G.O.A.T.
The Americans will need to make sure they have a Redeem Team-like roster if they have to go up against the duo of Embiid and Wembanyama in the Olympics. The future is bright for this kid, how bright though, that is what is to be determined. What we do know is the NBA remains in good hands in the upcoming years, with a plethora of talent at the center position.