NEW YORK — The NBA draft 2022 was top heavy with Paolo Banchero† Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith, but none of them compare to what comes next year with the 7-foot-3 phenom from France, Victor Wembanyama. Oklahoma City might have gotten a great prospect in Holmgren, but the refueling will continue for another year. The Thunder and multiple other teams are already looking to franchise-changing, generational talent Wembanyama for the NBA Draft 2023†
The 18-year-old point-forward plays like no other in the world with his staggering size and frame in which he continues to grow, along with his 7-foot-9 wingspan (some say it’s 7-foot-10). To see him take players off the dribble and step out of the Stephen Curry range into three-pointers defies everything you would ever expect from a young player of his size. It stands out most on the defensive side as a rim guard and effectively protects the pick and roll switch wings. Think Rudy Gobert mixed with Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis. That’s what Wembanyama is expected to be. If you find that comp too outrageous, how about a bigger Giannis Antetokounmpo with no weaknesses.
Seriously. He’s so good.
Wembanyama is the most talked-about prospect among NBA scouts and executives since LeBron James in 2003 and is the runaway favorite for the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA draw by one mile. The French native will be the biggest and most talented import from abroad ever, surpassing Luka Doncic and two-time MVP Nikola Jokic.
“Right now it’s Wembanyama and everyone else for the 2023 draft,” an NBA scout told Yahoo Sports. “There’s always concern about someone so good, so young, but it hasn’t stopped Wembanyama from getting better over the years. He’s the closest thing to a transcendent talent the design has had since probably Zion.” seen [Williamson]And even then, feelings across the league were a lot more mixed compared to where it is now with Wembanyama.”
Who is Victor Wembanyama, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA draft?
Wembanyama grew up in Le Chesnay, France, a suburb 25 kilometers outside of Paris. His mother, Elodie de Fautereau, played high-level basketball and his father, Felix, was a professional high jumper and track and field athlete. His older sister, Eve, also played basketball, winning a gold medal with France at the 2017 U16 European Championship. As a child, Wembanyama played football and was an elite goalkeeper before giving up to focus solely on basketball.
At just 14 years old, Wembanyama helped France’s JSF Nanterre U18 team to finish second in the French League, despite being three years younger than most players. Around this time, Wembanyama began to be noticed by other scouts across Europe. He was a lanky center who wasn’t afraid to shoot deep threes, attack the course outside the perimeter and play the game differently than anyone else. It was clear early on that he was going to be a special player with his size and skills. Despite attempts to move to Barcelona, a larger basketball city, Wembanyama chose to remain in France and continue his development. He eventually played for ASVEL Villeurbanne in the EuroLeague and the French national team U19.
Every NBA scout was tuned in last summer to watch 7-foot Holmgren, this year’s No. 2, take on Wembanyama in the gold medal game of the FIBA U19 World Cup. Holmgren is known as one of the best rim protectors in America, but it was Wembanyama (one year younger than anyone on the field) who was incredible, racking up eight (yes, EIGHT!) blocks in the game, adding 22 points and a performance of MVP caliber. Team USA came just above France, 83-81, with Holmgren taking MVP honors, finishing with 10 points and five assists in 23 minutes. Over the course of the tournament, Wembanyama set a record for blocked shots in a FIBA World Cup history (40), averaging 5.7 per game. To put it in perspective, Holmgren scored just 19 blocks in the same tournament.
“Never have I seen Chet Holmgren so physically overshadowed as last year when the two met,” another NBA scout told Yahoo Sports. “He can and does pretty much everything Chet can do, but he’s two inches taller, probably shoots better from three, may have a better passer feel and a much better frame to develop than Chet.”
The All-Tournament team was packed with talent, including Jaden Ivey (No. 5 pick this year for the Detroit Pistons), Nikola Jovic (No. 27 pick for the Miami Heat), Zach Edey (Purdue junior center), Wembanyama and Holmgren .
Ivey and Holmgren were top five picks in this draft, and Wembanyama would certainly have been the number 1 pick in this year’s draft and arguably the number 1 pick in the last three draft classes. He is the best young prospect in the world, regardless of class.
What Insiders Are Saying About Victor Wembanyama, From Positive to Concern
As expected, there were growing pains in the EuroLeague, playing against grown men, but he held his own last season. Wembanyama recorded his best game last month with 14 points, five rebounds, five blocks and two steals in 23 minutes in a win over Zalgiris. Head coach TJ Parker is encouraged by his development and offers an insider’s look at what it’s like to coach the budding superstar.
“First of all, he listens and he wants to get better,” Parker said after the win over Wembanyama. “It’s not easy for him because he has such a body. He needs to get stronger and he works hard every day, but I trust him at the end of the game. Even at only 18 years old.”
Wembanyama does it all, from blocking shots to scoring offensively on all three levels. A lot could change between now and June 2023 when he qualifies for draft, but all signs point to Wembanyama being the next big thing to hit the NBA. Injuries were a minor concern after he suffered a minor finger fracture in November and a bone contusion in his right shoulder in December. If healthy, Wembanyama is unstoppable and shows a glimpse of why he is the No. 1 2023 NBA prospect. Sure, there will be doubters and critics about his tall, lanky stature, but Wembanyama is ready to prove everyone wrong.
“I have no pressure, no fear. It’s just basketball, so I try to have fun every time,’ wembanyama said:† “You know, people have doubts, but I’m going to prove them wrong.”
Brace yourself. Wembanyama, an 18-year-old from France, is a year away from changing the game of basketball and the way the center position is played. He is also in good company with the teenage phenomenon dominating the G League, Scoot Hendersonand twins 6 feet-7 Amen and Ausar Thompson make noise in Overtime’s OTE competition. All are the projected top five picks next year.
Let the refueling begin for the 2023 NBA draft.