Victor Wembanyama made his US debut on Tuesday and now has sportsbooks prepping his likely landing spot in the NBA. [Image: Thomas S via Flickr]
A flawless debut
The future is here—and its name is Victor Wembanyama.
one of the biggest draws in the sport’s history
The 18-year-old French basketball sensation has slowly grown from the hipsters’ “one for the future” to the mainstream’s dream. The young phenom dropped 37 points, five blocks, and seven threes on the G League Unite in his debut on American soil Tuesday night, cementing him as one of the biggest draws in the sport’s history, just with his opening act.
If the NBA thought it had problems with tanking to get better draft picks before, it is in for a harsh reality. Sportsbooks have already released odds for the worst record in the league, but any team in the league wouldn’t mind a one-season layover to get their next decade-plus sorted.
Victor Wembanyama: never-before-seen
Standing at 7-foot-5, Wembanyama is unlike any other athlete to have graced a court in decades. He is swift, agile, coordinated, has a handle, and can pull up off the dribble, all while defending the interior at a supreme level.
The young Frenchman’s highlight videos earned endless retweets and favorites online, but many were wondering how he would perform against a more competitive crop of American talent. Well, the skeptics got their answer on Tuesday.
Playing for Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92, a French pro team, at the Dollar Loan Center in Henderson, Nevada, Wembanyama went up against the G League Unite and 2023 #2 prospect Scoot Henderson. After trailing by 19 points at halftime, the foreign challenger ratcheted up the defensive intensity and led a three-point barrage against a team of NBA up-and-comers, even stuffing his draft classmate Henderson at the rim on a would-be jam in the fourth quarter.
only one time has a player made seven threes and blocked five shots in a game
In the 75-year history of the NBA, only one time has a player made seven threes and blocked five shots in a game, and he needed three overtime periods to do so. That player was Danny Green in a 2014 battle with the Memphis Grizzlies, and he finished with 25 points to Wembanyama’s 37.
The closest comparison for Wembanyama in the league today is Kevin Durant, which is praise in and of itself. Durant is viewed as an anomaly for his alien-like shooting consistency and superior coordination for his size, yet Wembanyama is even taller and just as gifted.
It was just one game, but was it ever a game. If there was any doubt, Wembanyama is coming for the NBA throne in a hurry.
NBA draft odds and predictions
On a slightly more sour note, the NBA now has to prepare for the issue of possible tanking heading into next summer’s draft, when Wembanayama is expected to be selected with the first overall pick.
The league tried to combat tanking by introducing a lottery for draft picks in 1985, with worse-performing teams receiving better chances at the top selection. To further discourage tanking, commissioner Adam Silver implemented a rule in 2019 that gives the three worst teams the same chance at securing the top spot (14%).
According to DraftKings, the franchises expected to get the fewest wins— in order from the bottom-up— are the San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, and Oklahoma City Thunder. The three teams after the Spurs all have lines of 23.5 expected wins.
Wembanyama’s impending dominance rivals that of what Erling Haaland has shown during his brief stint at Manchester City. He is a young, never-before-seen sort of player that appears unguardable in every sense of the word.
lose games in hopes of landing the next basketball megastar
The NBA regular season is set to begin on October 15. The highlight of opening night is undoubtedly a matchup between LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers and Steph Curry and the defending champion Golden State Warriors. But while these top squads are duking it out, others are going to be inventing new ways to lose games in hopes of landing the next basketball megastar.
Buy stock while you still can.