By Artau Pascual

In less than a week, Victor Wembanyama will be wearing a San Antonio Spurs hat. Then we’ll know officially what has been a consensus take since the 2023 NBA Draft lottery took place: he’ll be the number 1 pick in the NBA Draft. Wembanyama, a 7’5 2004-born French player, is a generational basketball talent and a special athlete. 

It’s nearly impossible to find players that, like him, find out the way to grow and compete at the same time. No one expected him, when he signed for Metropolitans, to be the main character of a team that would defy the odds and make a run to the LNB Pro A Finals. Wembanyama has kept turning heads while he’s been the main face of a team that didn’t expect to win as much as it did. 

The word that fits the best Wembanyama’s game is glitch. It’s simply unfair to see a 7’5-tall player putting on display a crafty-guard type of skillset with so much ease, and it’s even more insulting when you add to this mix the amount of ground he covers on the defensive end. He had the perfect scenario to demonstrate all his capabilities with a wide margin of error, but in the end he converted them into winning tools really early. We’ve never seen someone like him.

Boulogne-Levallois was the perfect place

Let’s give a few lines about Wembanyama’s background. In the 2021/22 season, after a very strong U19 World Cup performance in the 2021 summer, Wembanyama earned a spot in ASVEL Villeurbanne’s first team. He was going to be part of the rotation of an Euroleague team. There are not a lot of 18 years old players in Euroleague. Wembanyama had to handle four different circumstances at the same time: hype, a loaded schedule, a whole new level of competition and his own development. The first one, as well as the fourth, have never been big deals for him: he’s completely aware of who he is and what he’s capable of, but it has never turned against him or altered his behavior in a bad way. 

The second and third ones were tougher. As for any other player in the world, playing in the second-best competition was demanding for Wembanyama: the opponents are as athletic, physical and smart as you can imagine, and the game goes really fast. If we take into consideration the implications of playing three or four games in seven-days spans, it all becomes even more challenging. Due to multiple circumstances, he didn’t find the desired continuity. 

Moving to Metropolitans 92 was the right decision. In the 2022/23 season, under Vincent Collet’s orders, he’s been able to find the happy middle between development, competition and hierarchy. Playing a game per week, having full weeks to work out and being coached by someone heavily bonded with the French Federation who plans to build the NT around him in a near future were powerful reasons to do the move. The foundation to have a good season was set, and Victor Wembanyama did the rest. 

A unique player with an immediate impact on the defensive end

It’s fun to project what Wembanyama will be on the offensive end because something very strange should happen for him to not develop into an All-NBA caliber player, but it’s undeniable what jumps off the page first is defensive impact. He just makes his presence felt, and that’s a lot when you are 7-foot-4 tall and 8-foot wingspan player. The amount of ground that the French stud covers is simply insane.

It’s not only about his physical building but about the use he does of his tools. He’s turned into the perfect mold of a European defense anchor because of his size and ability to map the court. When he doesn’t block a shot, at least he deters it. He’s a good antidote against rim pressure and his jump timing is good enough to avoid making unnecessary fouls. His motor allows him to hustle back in transition as any other 7’5 player in the world. In Pick&Roll defense, he’s fluid enough to switch and when dropping he backpedals without struggling at all. He turns hips well and doesn’t suffer to lower his center of gravity. Obviously, there’s no bigger difference regarding basketball archetypes than the one between Guards in Europe and in the NBA, but he has the mold to translate his ability to stay in front of NBA ball-handlers at a high-level. 

NBA basketball is different. Like every other newcomer, Wembanyama will have to adjust to bigger spaces and different talent. Specially the first issue is really challenging for a player who will have to handle key duties for his team such as communicating and correcting. It’s easy to project him as the leader of his teams. There are many ways to arrive to this point, but a viable path for him to make a defensive impact in the NBA would be using him in certain lineups as a helpside defender. Because of his size and awareness, he could take advantage of this role and create events for his team, and it wouldn’t be difficult to fit a player by his side given his all-around profile on both ends.

There have also been some intense talks about his post defense capability. At this point, it’s more about Wembanyama’s frame and look than a really negative factor. Like absolutely every other player willing to step into the NBA, during his first seasons and summers in the league Wembanyama will go through a personalized conditioning plan to put him in the place to success. But we’ve seen during the season that, despite having some common flaws, he has improved constantly in his post defense and his nowhere close to his ceiling yet. Let’s take a look at all the possessions he played against the Euroleague-caliber C Youssoupha Fall in the LNB Pro A semifinals. Like most of the bigs in Europe, he struggled against one of the biggest menaces in the paint, a player who has been sitting at the top of the scoring percentiles both in LNB and Euroleague this season mainly by outbodying his matchups. Wembanyama’s core strength use is evolving in a good way and his shot-blocking instincts in the post are as good as in every other area. He doesn’t struggle in a big way either against players with lower center of gravity, which is a situation some teams look for nowadays in basketball. He allowed only 0.6 points per possession in the post in the 2022/23 season.

What can we expect of Wembanyama on the offensive end?

Wembanyama’s ceiling on offense is absurdly high too. There’s no 7’5 player in the world with his self-creation ability. He puts the ball on the floor and lowers his center of gravity to unreal levels. The tools are impressive, and his process and efficiency are still in the making. This being said, let’s add here two considerations: first, he comes off a 21-10 season. Second, in the most similar games to an NBA game he played, he thrived. There are some things to polish, but there are no unfixable issues, and he will be an impactful player from the very first moment on this end too. Also, every touch indicator looked better than in previous seasons, which talks well about his development. The matter is, when you think about Wembanyama, you constantly think about his ceiling.

Metropolitans gave absolute freedom to Victor Wembanyama to be the player he wished to at every moment and to take the shots he desired. His answer was great: it’s weird to see a player of his size getting up the shots he got up, but it’s normal when you focus on his skillset. Wembanyama’s shot is nearly unblockable for a human being, his space creation is absolutely off the charts and his mechanics are as clean and smooth as they can be, ignoring most of the tendencies some bigs have in their release. He shot 27% from the three-point line, but most of those shots were off-the-dribble, self-created looks…which are the type of shots nuclear players take in the NBA. It’s easy to project him used as the main option on the offensive end because he can do it pretty all. Using him in inverted Pick&Roll situations, such as Antetokounmpo or Pascal Siakam do for their teams, would be both creative and advantageous for the San Antonio Spurs.

In addition, Wembanyama did a good job as a play finisher too. In Pick&Roll situations, when acting as the screener, he displayed his whole package: he’s quick at rolling to the basket, he can absorb contact with ease or start his way to the rim way before than most of the bigs merely because of his steps. He also has the type of touch and coordination to make extension finishes at a high-level, he can slip, and he can also slide. He’ll be a short path to get points.

We can’t ignore either his passing ability. Tall players with nice court vision are good passers. Wembanyama is as tall as a basketball player can be, and his game processing ability and courtmapping are functional already. He’s good at the short roll, he has the poise to draw multiple defenders and do the right read when he’s in the post, and he also thinks quickly in the block. Decision-making in wider spaces will be easier for him than in France, and he’ll be able to count on NBA-caliber shooters on a nightly basis. We are talking about a consequence of his scoring gravity, but there’s no doubt passing will be a pleasant add to Wembanyama’s contribution.

At this point, it will be a matter of time for him to integrate his game to NBA. San Antonio Spurs will adapt their timeline to Wembanyama’s development, so he’ll have the time to polish some things like sloppy passes or shots that go too strong, fall short or look ugly. But he’ll turn soon everything into real production, and then it’s going to be tough to find answers to his game.


Victor Wembanyama is a generational talent. That’s all. The most likely outcome for him is to turn into the cornerstone of a winning team. He’s hands down the best player and the best prospect on both ends of the court among the names in this generation.