Remember the name Victor Wembanyama.
The United States got its first look at the 7’4” (224 cm) behemoth this week when he played his first televised games on American soil in Las Vegas.
And Wembanyama really lived up to the hype. He’s remarkably athletic for his height, he can dribble the ball like a guard and shoots ridiculously well for someone that tall.
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Playing for his French side Metropolitans 92 against G League Ignite, the 18-year-old was unstoppable, scoring over 30 points in both exhibition games and completely stealing the show.
Described as a taller version of Kevin Durant who can block shots, Wembanyama is the most hyped draft prospect since LeBron James and there is already speculation that teams will stack up this season for a chance to pick him with the first pick in the draft. of the next year. .
Basketball fans couldn’t believe their eyes on Friday (AEDT) when Wembanyama dribbled into the corner, spun to the basket and nailed a bold off-balance 3-pointer.
NBA draft analyst Jonathan Givony tweeted: “Victor Wembanyama makes it look easy with this absurd running 3 pull-up that drops out of bounds from the corner demonstrating his exceptional footwork and body control.
“We’ve never seen anything remotely like this from a player of this size before.”
ESPN’s Kevin Pelton joked: “Clucking at Wembanyama 3 fading out of bounds to the basket. CGI is going too far.”
Sam Vecenie of The Athletic said: “That Wembanyama fadeaway 3 running in transition where he caught the wing and took two giant steps to charge into corner 3 with a balanced fadeaway with perfect energy transfer is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen.”
Mark Gottlieb posted: “Wembanyama is unreal. Like, literally… it must be a robot or something. This is computer game stuff. Absurd.”
Other highlights included a crazy 3-pointer from 30-plus feet, an alley-oop dunk and multiple blocks.
Such was the interest in Wembanyama’s first nationally televised game in the United States that ESPN’s live broadcast of the game crashed on Friday.
NBA fans couldn’t believe their eyes when Wembanayma posed for a photo with countryman Rudy Gobert and was clearly taller than the 8-foot center for the Minnesota Timbervolves.
He finished with 36 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, his blocks to lead the Metropolitans 92 to a 112-106 victory.
Earlier this week, LeBron James described Wembanya as a “generational talent” and an “outsider.”
“Everyone has been a unicorn for the past few years, but he is more like an alien,” he said.
“No one has ever seen anyone as tall as him but as fluid and graceful as him on the ground. He is a generational talent and I hope that he continues to stay healthy.”
The #1 prospect shows off his skills at 7’4! | 00:49
Wembanya also received high praise from Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo.
“The way his skills, the way he could shoot the ball, the way he can move, he’s extremely fast for his size, he can block shots, he can be a threat on the offensive end, it’s unbelievable,” he said. greek monster.
“We have never seen anything like this before. I think it’s a good challenge for everyone in the league to have someone who’s 7-foot-2 and can shoot, dribble like a shooting guard, block shots, run fast out the door. We have to prepare for this child. He is going to be very good.”
Wembanya was humbled by the high praise but said he won’t feel like he’s accomplished anything until he plays in the NBA.
“Obviously it’s an honor to see such great people talk about me like that,” said the Frenchman.
“But it really doesn’t change anything. People around me sent me this video this morning and I was like, ‘Oh that’s great,’ but I’m just trying to stay focused.
“The thing is, I haven’t done anything yet. I haven’t played a game in the NBA yet, I haven’t been drafted, so I have to stay focused to achieve my goals. It will be difficult to improve every day and maintain consistency.”
Athletic’s Shams Charania added: “This boy, he’s 18 years old. He can handle the ball, he can shoot.
“We see Chet Holmgren, we see Kristaps Porzingis. They have unique games, they were called unicorns. This kid, Victor Wembanyama, gets so much lift on his jump shots when he shoots from three.”