Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert has joined the basketball world in marveling at the talent of potential 2023 No. 1 overall NBA draft pick Victor Wembanyama.
Gobert, who is Wembanyama's teammate on the French national team, praised the rising star and discussed what sets him apart from the rest when asked about him Saturday:
Eric Walden @tribjazz
Rudy Gobert, on French national teammate and top prospect Victor Wembanyama: “He’s unique, something the world has never seen. … He’s taller than me, longer than me. He can space the floor, he can pass. But (he) also wants to play defense. … And he just loves to win.” <a href="https://t.co/f7qJos9uZF">pic.twitter.com/f7qJos9uZF</a>
Gobert, who is a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and has gone up against every top big in the league over the past several years, labeled Wembanyama as "unique" and ran down the long list of everything he is able to do on the court.
The 18-year-old Wembanyama has a combination of size, athleticism and fluidity that has perhaps never been seen before in the world of basketball, as Gobert alluded to.
Despite being 7'3", which is taller than the 7'1" Gobert, Wembanyama possesses impressive ball skills and the ability to stretch the floor with his shooting.
Wembanyama now plays for Metropolitans 92 of France's LNB Pro A league after spending last season with ASVEL Basket in the same league.
In 16 LNB Pro A games for ASVEL, Wembanyama averaged 9.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocks, while shooting 47.3 percent from the field, despite playing against much older and more mature competition.
Wembanyama truly opened the eyes of basketball players, fans and analysts earlier this month when he played in two exhibition games in Las Vegas.
In those two games, Wembanyama averaged 36.5 points, shot 50 percent from the field and grabbed a total of 15 rebounds, to go along with nine blocks.
Per Michael Scotto of USA TODAY Sports, Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James was among those who were blown away by the performance, saying: "Everybody's been a unicorn over the last few years, but he's more like an alien. No one has ever seen anyone as tall as he is but as fluid and as graceful as he is out on the floor … He's, for sure, a generational talent."
Unless something unexpected happens, there is every reason to believe Wembanyama will go first overall in next year's NBA draft regardless of who owns the pick.
That means teams attempting to position themselves for a high draft pick will perhaps have even more incentive than ever before to lose games and increase their odds of picking No. 1 overall.