Victor Wembanyama, the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, has been turning heads with his stellar performances in the preseason for the San Antonio Spurs. The 19-year-old Frenchman, who stands at a towering 7-foot-4, has displayed a rare combination of skills, athleticism and versatility that has drawn comparisons to some of the best players in the league.
A mini Kevin Durant with elite defense
One of the most impressive aspects of Wembanyama’s game is his ability to score from anywhere on the floor. He can shoot from beyond the arc, pull up from mid-range, post up in the paint and finish at the rim with authority. His smooth shooting stroke and fluid movements have earned him the nickname of “mini Kevin Durant”, a reference to the Brooklyn Nets superstar who is widely regarded as one of the best scorers of all time.
Wembanyama has also shown that he can handle the ball, pass and create for himself and his teammates. In his second preseason game against the Miami Heat, he had four assists, including a behind-the-back pass to Keldon Johnson for a dunk. He also had a highlight-reel play where he ran the floor like a guard, euro-stepped past a defender and slammed it home with two hands.
But Wembanyama is not just an offensive juggernaut. He is also a defensive nightmare for opponents, thanks to his incredible length, timing and instincts. He can protect the rim, block shots, switch on screens and guard multiple positions. He had three blocks in his debut against the Orlando Magic, and four more in his second game against the Heat. He also had two steals in each game, showcasing his quick hands and anticipation.
The most anticipated prospect since LeBron James
Wembanyama’s potential has been evident since he was a teenager playing in France. He was widely considered as the best prospect in the world, regardless of age, and drew rave reviews from scouts, analysts and former players. He was compared to legends like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon and Dirk Nowitzki, as well as current stars like Anthony Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid.
He declared for the NBA draft in April 2023, saying that he hoped it was “big news”. He was projected to be the No. 1 pick by every mock draft, and was hailed as a generational talent who could change the game. He was also praised for his maturity, work ethic and humility, despite being under immense pressure and scrutiny.
The San Antonio Spurs, who had won the draft lottery, did not hesitate to select him with the first overall pick on July 29, 2023. They saw him as a perfect fit for their culture and system, and a franchise player who could lead them back to contention. Wembanyama said he was honored to join the Spurs, and expressed his admiration for coach Gregg Popovich and former players like Tim Duncan and Tony Parker.
A bright future ahead
Wembanyama has already shown glimpses of his immense talent and potential in the preseason. He has averaged 21 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3.5 blocks per game on 65 percent shooting from the field and 50 percent from three-point range. He has also earned praise from his teammates, coaches and opponents for his performance and attitude.
However, Wembanyama is not satisfied with his early success. He said he wants to improve every aspect of his game, and learn from his mistakes. He also said he does not care about individual accolades or comparisons, but only about winning games and championships. He said he is ready to face any challenge that comes his way, and adapt to any situation.
Wembanyama has already made history as the first French player to be drafted No. 1 in the NBA. He has also generated excitement and curiosity among fans, media and peers around the world. He has been dubbed as the next big thing in basketball, and a potential future MVP and Hall of Famer.
But Wembanyama is not interested in hype or labels. He is only focused on playing hard, having fun and fulfilling his dreams.