Today: Jun 25, 2024

Column: On the NBA: How great will Wembanyama be?

Luke Gadson- Sports Editor

When looking at some of the best No. 1 overall picks in NBA history, the list creates a picture of generational basketball legends.  Six of the ten greatest players in NBA history are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, and LeBron James. They all have resumes and accolades that would put most athletes to shame, as well as memorable on-court moments to last us fans a lifetime. 

And, as crazy as it may sound, without playing a full NBA regular season, the first overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, Victor Wembanyama, could end up being better than them all. 

When the Wembanyama led San Antonio Spurs played the star-studded Phoenix Suns in their fifth game of the season, he displayed his entire skill set. He made pull-up jumpers from beyond the three-point line, dunked over opponents, and was a force on defense by swatting and defending many attempts near the rim. He was a man amongst boys while being the youngest on the floor at the age of 19.  

If you showed someone who had never seen a basketball game the highlights of Wembanyama’s game versus the Phoenix Suns, they would believe they were watching the most immaculate basketball player to ever play. A 7-foot-4 center who dunked over NBA veterans while almost still being on the ground. He drove the ball up the court, going from dribble combos into pull-up jumpers, which should not be possible for someone his height. 

 He picked up his dribble to start layups from the three-point line and dunked in transition. And, of course, with his amazing wingspan and agility, he protected the rim and covered the entire halfcourt defensively. 

If this is what he looked like within his first five NBA games at 19 years old, imagine what he will look like by the conclusion of his rookie season when he has fully adjusted to the NBA’s speed and physicality. Even worse, imagine him in five years when he is hitting his prime and has added strength and muscle to his frame. 

 What does the future hold for him if he already looks like this? How insane can this get? We’re looking at a mix of Kevin Durant’s offensive skill set and Anthony Davis’ defensive effect, but he’s five inches taller than both of them. Kevin Durant is already the most unfair scorer in NBA history, with to his combination of size, length, athleticism, and shooting skills. Wembanyama is everything that KD is, but with longer arms and higher height. 

 Nobody will be able to do anything with him. He has the potential to be the greatest defensive force in basketball history, as well as the best offensive player in the world. He’s the closest we’re going to get to a completely unstoppable player. 

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