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Victor Wembanyama: Tanking by NBA Teams 'Unreasonable' and 'Weird Strategy'

Erin WalshDecember 30, 2022

"All Star France" French Victor Wembanyama slam dunks during a match between "All Star France" and "All Star World" as part of the All Star Game LNB basketball event at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris on December 29, 2022. - The All Star Game of the French National Basketball League (Ligue Nationale de Basket - LNB) is an exhibition match between a team of the best French players and a team of the best international players of France's Elite basketball league. (Photo by JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP) (Photo by JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP via Getty Images)
JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP via Getty Images

Victor Wembanyama hasn't even hit an NBA court yet, but he's already being labeled a generational talent.

Because of the Frenchman's insane talent that has drawn rave reviews from the likes of LeBron James and Stephen Curry, the idea of teams tanking to improve their chances of selecting him with the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA draft has been a hot topic this year.

Wembanyama, however, expressed confusion about the tanking approach in an interview with Le Parisien.

"Tanking? It's a weird strategy," Wembanyama said. "I find it unreasonable, and I try not to think about it. I also heard that the NBA considered changing a few rules for me, but that doesn't concern me."

Wembanyama is expected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA draft, topping the likes of Scoot Henderson and Amen Thompson.

The 19-year-old is 7-foot-2, has a wingspan of nearly eight feet and can play any position on the court. His combination of size, shooting and skill makes him one of the most desirable prospects the league has seen in a long time.

Wembanyama's talents were on full display in the United States for the first time in October when Metropolitans 92 met the G League Ignite in the Las Vegas showcase. He finished the first matchup with 37 points, four rebounds, one steal and five blocks, and the second game with 36 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, one steal and four blocks.

In an interview with Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press in October, Wembanyama stated that while he has drawn inspiration from some of the NBA's best players, such as Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo, he's excited to carve out his own path at the next level:

"I'm gonna tell you something that's been going on in my life, like for my whole life, since I've been a kid, even before I played basketball. I've always tried to do [something] different. I'm not even talking about sports, whatever. Any field, I'm always trying to be original, something original, something one of one, something that's never been done before. And this is really how it worked in my life. I don't know where it comes from. I think I was born with it. I've always been trying to be original. Unique, that's the word."

Entering Thursday's slate, the Detroit Pistons (9-28), Charlotte Hornets (9-26), Houston Rockets (11-23), and San Antonio Spurs (10-24) had the best odds of winning the NBA draft lottery.

There's still plenty of season left, and the odds for those teams could obviously change. But if the NBA finds out teams are deliberately losing games in an attempt to secure the No. 1 overall pick and a shot at Wembanyama, there's a chance it can hand down some significant punishment.