NBA teams may not love it, but Victor Wembanyama will continue playing competitive basketball this season rather than being shut down for the 2023 draft.
"NBA people are telling me to shut him down, and we are not going to shut him down," Bouna Ndiaye told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Jonathan Givony. "If we came with that kind of talk to (Wembanyama), he will look at us and say, 'What are you talking about?' He'll never agree to that. He wants to compete and get better. With Victor, it's basketball first and everything else second. He was so pissed off that he lost."
Wembanyama showed Tuesday night why he's a mortal lock for the top selection next June, pouring in 37 points and blocking five shots as his Metropolitans 92 team lost to the G League Ignite in the most anticipated exhibition matchup in recent memory.
Scoot Henderson, widely considered the No. 2 prospect in the 2023 class, had 28 points and nine assists in an equally impressive outing. Wembanyama and Henderson are considered the best one-two punch in an NBA draft in at least a decade.
It's not since Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley that two players have so clearly established themselves as head-and-shoulders above their competition—and that might even be underselling the Wembanyama hype.
"He's a 7-foot-4 Durant who blocks shots — and he's not even close to what he's going to be. He will be the most hyped player since LeBron," one general manager told ESPN.
Wembanyama is considered a generational athlete, capable of scoring at will while presenting a Rudy Gobert-esque level of intimidation at the rim. While he clearly needs to add some muscle, Wembanyama is as close to a modern basketball prototype that exists in the human race. There is no ceiling to the level of achievement he can attain, provided his frame stands up to the rigors of an NBA minutes load and he's willing to work on his body.
The NBA has taken significant steps to curb tanking in recent seasons, most notably making changes to the lottery that give lower odds to the worst teams. That said, it's probably not going to take much for struggling teams to decide it's worth punting next season to land what could be a generational superstar next June.