2023 NBA Draft: Wem! Ban! Thank You Yam!

Kliq

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It is time to begin discussion of the 2023 NBA Draft. The jewel of the draft is French big man Victor Wembanyama. What are people saying about Wembanyama?

Mike Schmitz calls him "the best prospect I've ever evaluated"

Wembanyama is the true prize of this class and the best prospect in the world regardless of age. I've long considered the 18-year-old French big man the best prospect I've personally ever evaluated, and at 7-3 with a 7-9 wingspan and 9-7 standing reach, he's starting to turn that sky-high potential into real production for the ASVEL team in France.

After missing some time because of injury earlier in the year, Wembanyama has hit stride over the past 10 games (EuroLeague and France Pro A), averaging 13.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in 21.6 minutes while shooting 63% from 2 and 50% from 3. Even more impressive than the production has been how Wembanyama is getting his numbers. ASVEL is springing him free with off-ball screens like a wing, unleashing his feathery shooting touch.

With his handle and footwork on display, he has been looking like a bigger Kevin Durant at times by splashing self-created step-back 3s. He's starting to add a more advanced midpost package, fading into back-shoulder turnarounds with incredible ease. He's getting to lobs no other player on the planet could even think of. On top of that, he's protecting the rim at an elite level -- well ahead of Rudy Gobert at the same stage -- while also showing the ability to step out and switch onto guards unlike any player we've previously seen at his height. Wembanyama is the only player in EuroLeague history to record a block percentage over 12%.

He still has his lapses on the defensive glass, can get a little overzealous offensively and with a lean frame has some questions to answer about his durability. But Wembanyama is a one-of-one-caliber prospect, a franchise changer and a future NBA MVP so long as he can stay healthy. He's the exact type of superstar that could quickly turn the Thunder into a playoff team and future contender the moment he puts on that Oklahoma City hat.
Draft people have been very high on Wembanyama for a while, and he first surfaced last season when he outplayed Chet Holmgren in a FIBA U-19 World Cup Final. Since then his game has significantly and he's turned into a major contributor for his club team in France, something that is basically unheard of for a player that age in Europe outside of Luka.

Last night, during a game between his club team and the G League Ignite, Wembanyama had 37 points, 7/11 from three and 5 blocks.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-dfVWoUvx0



The draft is considered to be very strong outside of Wembanyama. Scoot Henderson is the consensus #2 pick at the moment, he played for the G League Ignite last year as a 17 year old and more than held his own, especially later in the season as he began to blossom playing pro basketball. He is a big, explosive ball-handler that has drawn comparisons to Kyrie Irving, or Anthony Edwards.

There are a pair of twins, Amen and Aussar Thompson (Amen is the superior prospect) as springy wings playing for Overtime Elite. Nick Smith, a combo guard at Arkansas, is considered probably the best NCAA prospect heading into his freshmen season. Cam Whitmore (SF, Villanova), Dariq Whitehead (Wing, Duke), Brandon Miller (SF, Alabama) and GG Jackson (Big, South Carolina) are all Top 10 prospects as well.
 

ElcaballitoMVP

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Watched Victor last night. He's freakishly good. Obviously needs to bulk up, but the skills are off the charts. Kind of reminds me of a taller Giannis with a very good jump shot. Not quite as explosive, but man I was impressed.
 

BaseballJones

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I watched the highlights from last night. This guy has a legit shooting guard's jump shot. Like he can come off a screen and shoot it like he's JJ Redick. He has a nice pull up jumper. Good catch and shoot guy too. 7-11 from three. At 7'5". And unlike Chet, this guy looks somewhat sturdy. Obviously he's slender, but not Chet slender. He's an incredibly skilled player for (a) someone so young, and (b) someone so tall.
 

BigSoxFan

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Someone is getting a franchise play next spring. He is awesome to watch.
 

lovegtm

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Victor aside (amazing), I hadn't watched Scoot play before, and was very impressed.
 

Jimbodandy

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Been watching Victor for a while. And while the Ralph Sampson comparisons aren't perfect, he reminds me a lot of young Ralph Sampson. He's not a strong as Ralph, but he has quicker feet and range. I can't think of a higher ceiling prospect, and his floor is no joke.

Love Scoot too, but Victor is like a once in a half century kind of prospect.

Edit: don't be depressed about a Sampson comparison. Young Ralph was an absolute stud.
 

RorschachsMask

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I’m friends with a few basketball writers/draft people, and they’re almost having a hard time processing what they are seeing in Victor lol, I have never seen anything like him.

Scoot would go first in a majority of drafts, his polish and creativity is just ridiculous. If his jumper develops like most think it should, he will be unstoppable offensively.
 
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Euclis20

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He really does move and look like a taller Durant, complete with rim protection. Feels like health is the only thing standing between him and being a top 10 guy for a long time. Holmgren looks like his weaker baby brother.
 

Was (Not Wasdin)

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I've seen very little of VW, but from what I have seen, he looks like a good shooter with clean shooting stroke who happens to be tall (like Durant) vs. a tall guy trying to be a shooter.
 

JM3

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Wemby has a much larger injury history than Chet (this injury was Chet's 1st & Wemby has already had a few), but hopefully he goes somewhere fun & does amazing things for many years.
 

Return of the Dewey

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Been watching Victor for a while. And while the Ralph Sampson comparisons aren't perfect, he reminds me a lot of young Ralph Sampson. He's not a strong as Ralph, but he has quicker feet and range. I can't think of a higher ceiling prospect, and his floor is no joke.

Love Scoot too, but Victor is like a once in a half century kind of prospect.

Edit: don't be depressed about a Sampson comparison. Young Ralph was an absolute stud.
Ralph was a 2022 player playing in the 1980s. He would have excelled in today’s NBA
 

JM3

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Spurs won 34 games last year & traded away 2 of their 3 leading scorers from last year (Dejounte & DWhite) & replaced them with...4 rookies?

Their 3 highest paid players this season?

Doug McDermott ($13.8m)
Josh Richardson ($12.2m)
Danilo Gallinari ($10.4m - buyout)

They're one Keldon Johnson "injury" from being by far the least talented team in the NBA.

Plus everyone is already conspiracy-theorying Wemby to the Spurs.
 

Ale Xander

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Wemby has a much larger injury history than Chet (this injury was Chet's 1st & Wemby has already had a few), but hopefully he goes somewhere fun & does amazing things for many years.
Those legs are horrifically thin proportionally but I’m neither a doctor nor do I play one on tv.
 

nighthob

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I’m praying that one team ends up with both Thompson Twins. Guys from this pool that I like (not necessarily the best players).

Arthur Kaluma F Creighton. Big, strong, and long (7’ wingspan, though part of that is that he’s jacked). Great athlete too. 6’7”/6’8” and looks to be around 220-225. He’s a bull in a china shop (in a good way) on both ends of the floor. I’ve seen him listed anywhere from eight to eighteen in mocks. I don’t think he’s going to be a star, but man does he look like a rock solid NBA player.

Cam Whitmore F Villanova. Those ‘Nova boys always end up being good defenders. Great open court player and big time athlete. There’s nearly no way to keep him from dunking once he has that head of steam. He does have a small hitch in the jumper, but it should be easily fixable. He’s got all star written all over him.

Jarace Walker F Houston. Big dude (6’8” 225-230) with (allegedly) a 7’2” wingspan. Again part of that is that he’s really jacked. Strong as an ox, can credibly D up 5s. Lateral quickness seems average at best, but his length and strength helps him stay in front of most SGs. I doubt he can credibly defend 1s, but still, four positional D with a decent jumper seems like a win at the big wing spot.

Kris Murray F Iowa. Keegan's brother. Not a star, really a roleplayer and potentially a really good one. He can score in an other guy on the floor role. Sets decent picks. Solid defensively. Someone's going to get a bargain in 20-40 range.

Baba Miller F Florida State. A former G that had a growth spurt (he's 6'11" with a 7'2" wingspan). A pretty creative drive game as a result. He's also a solid shooter. Right now can probably defend 2-4. He doesn't look quite quick enough laterally to defend smaller ballhandlers and lacks the muscle to defend 5s quite yet. But he's not Chet Holmgren, there's plenty of frame there to add another 40lbs. And that guy could be a top 50 player.

Harrison Ingram F/G Stanford. Needs a little body work (he can run a little doughy), but he's 6'7"/6'8" with sufficient length. A nice all round game. Has high functioning roleplayer potential. A little too much guide hand action in the shot which makes him streaky.

Guys in the 25-50 range (Because Boston has a couple of bites at that apple)

Sidy Cissoko G/F G League Ignite. A jack of all trades type. The jumper's a little weak but he makes up for it with solid shot creation.

Ousmane N’Diaye F/C German B. 6'11", long, and athletic. Also has a nice looking jumper. Major work in progress. Could use another 30-40 lbs. Potentially a high end 3&D big.

Julian Phillips G/F Tennessee. A 6'7" wing that's pretty wiry (he's listed as 210 but I don't believe it for a second). He's limited offensively, he can’t shoot off the bounce at all and his off the dribble game is nothing to write home about. But he’s a good catch & shoot guy and has great anticipation in jumping the passing lanes. He’s got great potential as a 3&D guy.
 

Auger34

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Those legs are horrifically thin proportionally but I’m neither a doctor nor do I play one on tv.
Looks like he is much better proportionally than Chet and his upper body looks much more defined.

However, as you pointed out, they both look like they have twigs for legs that. Will definitely need to strengthen his core and base
 

ragnarok725

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I’m friends with a few basketball writers/draft people, and they’re almost having a hard time processing what they are seeing in Victor lol, I have never seen anything like him.

Scoot would go first in a majority of drafts, his polish and creativity is just ridiculous. If his jumper develops like most think it should, he will be unstoppable offensively.
In that showcase game he had 7 threes and 5 blocks. That's only been done once in the history of an NBA game, and it was a triple overtime game. Victor fouled out in the 4th with those stats.

The offense is obviously where a lot of the eyes have been popping, but you can also easily see how a man with his attributes could dominate defensively in historic way. The agility and quickness to go with that height and wingspan means he can close on and contest more shots than anyone currently in the league. It seems like his floor could be a Robert Williams type defensive presence, and he could be better than that, and then the offense...

He's an entirely unique player.
 

Swedgin

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Spurs won 34 games last year & traded away 2 of their 3 leading scorers from last year (Dejounte & DWhite) & replaced them with...4 rookies?

Their 3 highest paid players this season?

Doug McDermott ($13.8m)
Josh Richardson ($12.2m)
Danilo Gallinari ($10.4m - buyout)

They're one Keldon Johnson "injury" from being by far the least talented team in the NBA.

Plus everyone is already conspiracy-theorying Wemby to the Spurs.
Tearing a roster down to the studs takes time. Not to say San Antonio will not get there, but they are not yet. To be truly tankeriffic, a team does not just need an absence of top end talent, they need a dearth of rotation quality players on the roster.

Looking at Win Shares, not a perfect stat by any means, but for "rough justice" purposes, it will do.

The Spurs have Poetl (6.9), Johnson (4.9), Vassell (3.3) , Richardson (3.5) , Zach Collins (1.2/2.9 in his last healthy season), McDermott (1.6 in 20/21 - prior three years 3.8, 3.3, 2.9).

Contrast that to teams like Houston and OKC:

OKC: SGA (4.6 - impacted by his premature shutdown of course), Roby (2.9), Muscala (2.1). No one else over 2.
Houston: Tate (3.3), Matthews (2.8), Martin Jr (2.9) and Sengun (2.8). [Eric Gordon was at 1.4, and his last few years have been even worse]

If Indy dumps Hield and Turner they vault to the top/bottom of the class. Following a trade that brought back picks/prospects, the Pacers would have a roster whose best players were old friend Daniel Theis, TJ McConnell, Halliburton, Duarte and Jalen Smith.
 

scottyno

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I was at the game today and Wemby is absolutely insane. If he stays healthy his ceiling is multi time mvp
 

JakeRae

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NBA draft hIstory? Better prospect than Lew Alcindor, LeBron, Hakeem, Oscar Robertson? That's a big claim.
Have you watched the videos? He’s 7’4” with an offensive arsenal that looks like Kobe. I’m not saying he’s a better prospect than Lebron was, but it’s certainly not an unreasonable take.
 

Smokey Joe

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NBA draft hIstory? Better prospect than Lew Alcindor, LeBron, Hakeem, Oscar Robertson? That's a big claim.
When ever I hear stuff like this I always think of Derrick Coleman. He always played just well enough to guarantee his next paycheck.
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

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He's so good, I'd take Tatum and Brown both blowing their ACL in game 1 for a shot at him.

Not really.

But kind of.
 

JCizzle

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Have you watched the videos? He’s 7’4” with an offensive arsenal that looks like Kobe. I’m not saying he’s a better prospect than Lebron was, but it’s certainly not an unreasonable take.
At 7'4", I worry he's almost too tall in terms of injury risk. I would absolutely take him first without question though.
 

JM3

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Tearing a roster down to the studs takes time. Not to say San Antonio will not get there, but they are not yet. To be truly tankeriffic, a team does not just need an absence of top end talent, they need a dearth of rotation quality players on the roster.

Looking at Win Shares, not a perfect stat by any means, but for "rough justice" purposes, it will do.

The Spurs have Poetl (6.9), Johnson (4.9), Vassell (3.3) , Richardson (3.5) , Zach Collins (1.2/2.9 in his last healthy season), McDermott (1.6 in 20/21 - prior three years 3.8, 3.3, 2.9).

Contrast that to teams like Houston and OKC:

OKC: SGA (4.6 - impacted by his premature shutdown of course), Roby (2.9), Muscala (2.1). No one else over 2.
Houston: Tate (3.3), Matthews (2.8), Martin Jr (2.9) and Sengun (2.8). [Eric Gordon was at 1.4, and his last few years have been even worse]

If Indy dumps Hield and Turner they vault to the top/bottom of the class. Following a trade that brought back picks/prospects, the Pacers would have a roster whose best players were old friend Daniel Theis, TJ McConnell, Halliburton, Duarte and Jalen Smith.
Yeah...I think I have a problem with sort by win shares if they're used to project Muscala as being more valuable than Giddey + Dort for the Thunder this year.

Also, is JRich the Spurs point guard? Tre Jones?
 

Kliq

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It's really hard to see a prospect being bigger than Kareem; he had like, six years between his dominance at Power Memorial and UCLA to build up a reputation as the next great NBA player. Wembanyama is interesting because his games should be relatively low profile, as opposed to someone like Zion playing at Duke. I wonder if the hype builds around him enough for ESPN to start showing some European games on ESPN 2.
 

Jimbodandy

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It's really hard to see a prospect being bigger than Kareem; he had like, six years between his dominance at Power Memorial and UCLA to build up a reputation as the next great NBA player. Wembanyama is interesting because his games should be relatively low profile, as opposed to someone like Zion playing at Duke. I wonder if the hype builds around him enough for ESPN to start showing some European games on ESPN 2.
Was talking with my boy about this. He thinks that Lebron is the comp. I think Kareem. As good as Victor is, we would have been arguing back then whether Kareem's historic ceiling was more impressive or his historic floor. It's more or less impossible to be a bigger prospect than Kareem was. But the hype machine is very strong with Victor, and it's not like he needs it. He doesn't really need his games on ESPN either, since his highlights will be basically circling the globe every night that he plays.
 
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Euclis20

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At 7'4", I worry he's almost too tall in terms of injury risk. I would absolutely take him first without question though.
I think it'd be better for him if he were 6'10 instead (with the exact same skillset). We wouldn't be talking about him potentially being one of the 2-3 best prospects of all time, but he'd still be the consensus #1 pick and the chance of serious injury would be significantly lessened.
 

benhogan

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When ever I hear stuff like this I always think of Derrick Coleman. He always played just well enough to guarantee his next paycheck.
DC, really? he was so much bluster. I went to just about all his home games. Sherm fed him plenty of dunks

the Ralph Sampson "greatest prospect ever" hype from SI was deafening at one point
 

JM3

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Here are the lowest over/unders (BetMGM):

Spurs 22.5
Thunder 23.5
Rockets 23.5
Pacers 24.5
Jazz 25.5
Magic 26.5
Pistons 29.5

There's some juice on some of those (like Jazz under is -120, & Spurs & Magic overs are -120), so it's not really as compelling of a point in favor of my Spurs suck argument... but yeah, they're certainly in the mix.
 

Smokey Joe

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DC, really? he was so much bluster. I went to just about all his home games. Sherm fed him plenty of dunks

the Ralph Sampson "greatest prospect ever" hype from SI was deafening at one point
He was either the biggest waste of talent in NBA history or one of the biggest hype job. When he was drafted he was considered to be the next great PF.
 

NoXInNixon

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Here are the lowest over/unders (BetMGM):

Spurs 22.5
Thunder 23.5
Rockets 23.5
Pacers 24.5
Jazz 25.5
Magic 26.5
Pistons 29.5

There's some juice on some of those (like Jazz under is -120, & Spurs & Magic overs are -120), so it's not really as compelling of a point in favor of my Spurs suck argument... but yeah, they're certainly in the mix.
Bet the under on all of them. This is going to be the tankiest year in the history of tanking.
 

Sox Puppet

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He was either the biggest waste of talent in NBA history or one of the biggest hype job. When he was drafted he was considered to be the next great PF.
That's kinda harsh, no? Sampson's first three seasons with Houston were pretty stellar. Not really his fault that injuries took their toll.
 

Swedgin

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Bet the under on all of them. This is going to be the tankiest year in the history of tanking.
Hollinger made a great point in his Athletic piece today. Obviously, the decision to really tank is an organizational decision, i.e. something a GM cannot do without full buy in from his owner. We know that there are several owners that have been reluctant/unwilling to go into a full rebuild, and instead (notwithstanding the wisdom of Mike Ehrmantraut) opt for half measures. Victor's dominant, televised performance makes its much much easier to sell an owner on tear down. You are not just relying on scouting reports or you tube clips to entice the owner and the fan base.
 

Jimbodandy

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That's kinda harsh, no? Sampson's first three seasons with Houston were pretty stellar. Not really his fault that injuries took their toll.
Sampson was an absolute stud prospect and early pro player. He maintained his unbelievable college production in the NBA until the wheels fell off. I think that the 1986 finals killed him, but the injuries took their toll too. Guy was a legitimate #1 prospect in like 98% of drafts.

I'm not a Ralph-stan at all, but there's no denying his hype. Anyone can get derailed by injuries though. We'd be debating where Tmac belongs on the top-75 list, were it not for some crappy luck.
 

benhogan

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Hollinger made a great point in his Athletic piece today. Obviously, the decision to really tank is an organizational decision, i.e. something a GM cannot do without full buy in from his owner. We know that there are several owners that have been reluctant/unwilling to go into a full rebuild, and instead (notwithstanding the wisdom of Mike Ehrmantraut) opt for half measures. Victor's dominant, televised performance makes its much much easier to sell an owner on tear down. You are not just relying on scouting reports or you tube clips to entice the owner and the fan base.
It wouldn't shock me if fans, of tankers, start chanting VIC-TOR this season

Fans are pretty aware that having a chance at the next Bron for a half dozen years is worth the downgrade to 22 wins instead 32 wins... the consolation prize: Scoot Henderson

there is nothing worse than middle-of-the-road purgatory in the NBA
 

Cesar Crespo

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Coleman would get his 20 and 10 then log out for the night.

This Yam is better than our Yam but here's hoping he'll have more than a handful of healthy years due to his height. I guess he's not carrying all the weight around like a Shaq or even Yao so maybe in some ways it's a good thing?
 

Cesar Crespo

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So, I guess there's some a 15 year old girl in China who is 7'5 in Zhang Ziyu. That could be pretty big for women's basketball.
 

Kliq

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Simmons compared Wembanyama to KG on his pod today and I think that is my favorite comparison yet. Garnett was taller than his listed height of 6'11" (although not quite Wembanyama size) and had the kind of quickness and ball-skills of a smaller player. He never shot threes but it was a different era; if he grew up today he would probably be a great three point shooter. So like an evolutionary KG.

Outside from injury, the only thing that seems like it would stop him from being an incredible player is if he has that real, burning desire to be great. The start to his career is impressive and he seems like he's very competitive, but the truly best players have a fuck you edge and until we see him in the NBA, and probably only after a few seasons, can we tell that. Some folks mentioned Derrick Coleman, and that was what really held Coleman back. He had all the skills to be the best PF of his generation, and he had a nice career, but he lacked that killer instinct that kept him from unlocking his full potential.

Someone like Giannis has incredible physical gifts, but what really elevated him was a burning desire to be the best, and a consistent commitment to improvement and a lack of fear when it came to failing. LeBron, the same thing. Ben Simmons and Zion, at least at this point in their careers, don't appear to have THAT, and despite their physical gifts, it has held them back.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Hard to know with Zion. He's always injured. Another thing those players have mostly had is good health.