5 Victor Wembanyama Questions NBA Scouts Have Ahead of G League Ignite Showdown

Jonathan WassermanOctober 4, 2022

5 Victor Wembanyama Questions NBA Scouts Have Ahead of G League Ignite Showdown

0 of 5

    MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 17: Victor Wembanyama of LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne in action during the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague match between Real Madrid and LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne at Wizink Center on March 17, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Sonia Canada/Getty Images)
    Victor Wembanyama, Metropolitans 92 Sonia Canada/Getty Images

    One of the biggest scouting opportunities of the year will take place this week in Las Vegas, where projected No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama will play two games against projected No. 2 pick Scoot Henderson and the G League Ignite.

    Most scouts got to see Henderson live at least once last season. The majority have not seen Wembanyama in person. Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 versus Ignite should draw decision-makers and scouts from all 30 teams, with Wembanyama having been widely viewed as the world's top prospect for the last two years.

    Still, a player as unique as this 7'4" Frenchman comes with questions related to translatability. Here are some of the questions scouts have when trying to predict what Wembanyama will look like five years down the road.

How Real Is the Shooting?

1 of 5

    MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 17: Victor Wembanyama, #1 of LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne shoots the ball against Nigel Williams-Goss, #0 of Real Madrid during the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague match between Real Madrid and LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne at Wizink Center on March 17, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images)
    Angel Martinez/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

    Scout sentiment

    Three-point shooting has become a bigger part of Wembanyama's game and an obvious selling point to his seemingly unprecedented, best-case projection/outlook. At this point, buying his shooting means buying the eye test and made shots that suggest improvement feels inevitable.


    The Necessary Context

    After finishing 4-of-22 from deep for France at last summer's U19 World Cup, he shot a combined 27.5 percent from three and 68.4 percent at the free-throw line between EuroLeague and Jeep Elite league play. On one hand, the percentages and reliability haven't been there yet. On the other, scouts just watched a 17-18-year-old center hit 25 threes in 33 pro games while showing promising touch on foul/mid-range shots.

    There is also a convincing level of fluidity to his mechanics and release. We've even seen some movement shooting that highlights impressive footwork and balance for shot prep. So given his age and current capabilities, the made jumpers and fundamentals are outweighing inefficiency when it comes to projecting Wembanyama's shooting.

Is the Creation Translatable?

2 of 5

    MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 17: Victor Wembanyama, #1 of LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne is challenged by Nigel Williams-Goss, #0 of Real Madrid during the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague match between Real Madrid and LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne at Wizink Center on March 17, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images)
    Angel Martinez/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

    Scout sentiment

    More than anything else, it's Wembanyama's shot creation flashes that separate him from other 7'2"-plus bigs the NBA has seen.

    The fluidity of his dribble-drives, jumpers off the dribble and post fallaways is what's so persuasive. Will his moves and decisions be quick and sharp enough for creating easy separation into balanced looks against NBA power forwards and centers?


    The Necessary Context

    It's tough to picture a 7'4" player blowing by, shooting pull-ups or shaking defenders out of their boots in the NBA, mainly because of an expected choppier delivery for a player that size.

    Aside from projecting the quality of shots he'll be capable of creating for himself away from the basket, scouts will also be looking into his shot selection. He does have a tendency to seemingly try too hard at showcasing guard skills, which can lead to passing on high-percentage looks for flashier, highlight attempts.

    Last season, he shot just 34.8 percent in 13 EuroLeague games. Scouts will be expecting to see a higher conversion rate on self-created attempts this season.

How Will Lack of Strength Affect His Game?

3 of 5

    MUNICH, GERMANY - DECEMBER 02: Augustine Rubit #21 of FC Bayern Munich and Victor Wembanyama, #1 of LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne in action during the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season Round 13 match between FC Bayern Munich and LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne at Audi Dome on December 02, 2021 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Christina Pahnke/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images)
    Christina Pahnke/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

    Scout sentiment

    Boulogne-Levallois starts Wembanyama at center, a position that occasionally exposes his lack of strength.

    Is he built to play the 5 and hold his ground against strong, physical bigs like Joel Embiid, Rudy Gobert and Nikola Jokić?

    Strength questions may be equally relevant on offense. Will defenders' bumps knock him off track? How well will he finish after contact?


    The Necessary Context

    He's still 18 years old playing against pros, so sequences of opposing post scorers moving him backward are expected.

    There has to be some guesswork in projecting how his frame will fill out long term.

    While there is no recent weight listing for Wembanyama, he does appear more solid physically now than he did a year ago with ASVEL. Meanwhile, an 8'0" wingspan should help offset strength issues as a finisher and create recovery chances as a shot-blocker.

Will Durability Be an Issue?

4 of 5

    MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 17: Victor Wembanyama, #1 of LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne stretches prior to the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague match between Real Madrid and LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne at Wizink Center on March 17, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images)
    Angel Martinez/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

    Scout sentiment

    The lottery winner's draft decision will take into account various doctors' opinions and input, even if Wembanyama has an injury-free season. Medical reports and injury projections have become a major part of teams' predraft evaluation process, and they'll play an enormous role in 2023 with Wembanyama finally eligible.

    Is there a higher chance of his longer limbs getting tangled up? Are his never-ending legs more at risk of buckling? Does all that size add more pressure to his feet?


    The Necessary Context

    The NBA hasn't seen a player this tall with his particular skill set, which requires different types of movement patterns. There is also some injury history with similarly shaped perimeter bigs, including Kristaps Porziņģis, Bol Bol and now Chet Holmgren, who'll miss his rookie season after hurting his foot.

    While there is no evidence tying these players' heights, games and specific injuries—Holmgren's was somewhat fluky stepping on LeBron James' foot—durability questions about a skinny, 7'4" No. 1 pick are still in the back of scouts' minds.

Wembanyama's Upside or Scoot Henderson's Surefire Path to Stardom?

5 of 5

    STOCKTON, CA - MARCH 6: Scoot Henderson #0 of the G League Ignite dribbles the ball during the game against the Stockton Kings on March 6, 2022 at Stockton Arena in Stockton, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Scoot Henderson, G League Ignite Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

    Scout sentiment

    Scoot Henderson's draft eligibility puts some extra pressure on Wembanyama to avoid injuries, durability questions or any other question marks.

    There is an argument that Henderson may appear safer (and still possess All-Star upside), given the certainty tied to his positional strength, explosiveness, passing skill and pull-up shot-making—plus the fact we've repeatedly seen his combination of surefire strengths translate to stardom (Ja Morant, John Wall, Russell Westbrook, De'Aaron Fox, Derrick Rose).

    We've never seen a player with Wembanyama's physical profile successfully dominate the way he does. Could some teams feel more comfortable with Henderson, especially if he shows encouraging improvement as a three-point shooter?


    The Necessary Context

    While the Frenchman is still the clear favorite to go first in 2023, a Wembanyama-Henderson debate reminds of the 2019 draft. Like Wembanyama, Zion Williamson offered the most upside, but there was still a need to think about the fit and longevity of his unconventional body. And like Henderson, there were questions about Morant's shooting, but they also weren't too alarming, given how easy it was to picture his athleticism, two-point scoring and passing carrying over.

    There is zero question about who offers the highest ceiling among 2023 draft prospects. No prospect has the potential to impact a game in more ways than Wembanyama, a possible lead scorer (with self-creation upside), elite play-finisher, plus-passer and defensive game-changer.

    But if Henderson looks as advertised while raising his three-point percentage, there might not be a no-brainer choice for the eventual lottery winner.

X