After French prospect Victor Wembanyama's impressive performance Tuesday night, NBA executives are salivating at the thought of drafting him next year, with some comparing him to the best players in the game.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Jonathan Givony, one general manager of a team likely to contend for the No. 1 pick in 2023 described Wembanyama as "a 7'4" 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."
Wembanyama put up 37 points with seven three-pointers and five blocks as his Metropolitan 92 club fell to the G League Ignite, who were led by another top 2023 draft prospect in guard Scoot Henderson. Despite the loss, it was Wembanyama's special combination of size and skill that was the talk of the night.
The 18-year-old also didn't shrink under the pressure, as 200 scouts and executives were reportedly in attendance to watch the nationally televised exhibition game. Tuesday's performance enforced the belief that Wembanyama is a once-in-a-generation talent.
However, there is a question of how NBA teams will go about competing for position to land the future star.
"Victor distorts basketball reality," one GM said. "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."
Wojnarowski and Givony noted that after Wembanyama's impressive showing, "front offices have a better chance to sell a tanking strategy to both owners and fans." Henderson, the presumptive No. 2 pick next year, also had a strong performance with 28 points and nine assists, which would further motivate teams to tank this season.
Wembanyama and Henderson will have another chance to put their skills on display when their teams rematch Thursday. Wembanyama's agent, Bouna Ndiaye, told ESPN his client was so upset by Tuesday's loss that he suggested he'll go for 50 points when the teams run it back, so it's clear that fans and NBA scouts are in for another show.