Let the tanking begin.
After Victor Wembanyama's performance during Tuesday's high-profile showdown with fellow top prospect Scoot Henderson, one general manager believes teams will be striving for the top pick in the 2023 NBA draft like never before.
"Victor distorts basketball reality," the GM said, per Adrian Wojnarowski and Jonathan Givony of ESPN. "The tank/trade market will really shift after that showing. It feels like last night will start a race to the bottom like we've never seen."
While Tuesday's exhibition was between France's Metropolitans 92 and the G League Ignite, it was billed as a clash between the potential top two picks in the next draft.
Henderson led his team to a victory with 28 points, nine assists and five rebounds, showing off his skill set as a foundational guard who could be the face of a franchise for years to come, but it was the 7'4" Wembanyama who dazzled with 37 points, five blocks and seven threes.
Victor Wembanyama & Scoot Henderson's duel was a MOVIE!<br><br>Victor: 37 PTS (11-20 FGM), 7 3PM, 5 BLK<br>Scoot: 28 PTS, 5 REB, 9 AST<br><br>Game 2: Thurs. 3PM ET on ESPN 2 and the NBA App<br>📲 <a href="https://t.co/WIy2EVo02V">https://t.co/WIy2EVo02V</a> <a href="https://t.co/ljStpTNQt5">pic.twitter.com/ljStpTNQt5</a>
The overall smoothness of his game at that size and the reality he is an absolute matchup nightmare with his outside shooting surely had front offices around the league dreaming of the chance to draft him.
"He's a 7'4" Durant who blocks shots—and he's not even close to what he's going to be," one GM said. "He will be the most hyped player since LeBron."
The possibility of more teams tanking could have a ripple effect across the league during the 2022-23 campaign, as Wojnarowski and Givony explained.
Perhaps that comes in the form of teams on the fringe of the play-in tournament trading or resting more of their go-to players. That, in turn, could help the teams near the top of the standings who are looking to make additions prior to the trade deadline.
Tanking does not guarantee anything, though, as the league changed the draft lottery rules in 2019. The teams with the three worst records in the league all have a 14 percent chance of the top pick, and the numbers fall to 12.5 percent for the team with the fourth-worst record and 10.5 percent for the one with the fifth-worst.
Those lottery odds will be even more important ahead of the 2023 draft if Wembanyama does live up to his potential as someone who could be the face of the league in the future.