Every so often, an NBA Draft prospect with undeniable star power emerges before the eyes of the basketball world. These prospects transcend the limitations of their visibility with such profound talent and irregularity that everyone, from casual fans to hoops junkies, knows their names. Joining the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, LeBron James and Zion Williamson is Parisian center Victor Wembanyama — the unquestioned star of a highly touted 2023 NBA Draft class.
A teenager with an uncanny blend of functional mobility, elite rim protection and three-level scoring upside, the name ‘Victor Wembanyama’ is already echoing throughout NBA circles. Roughly one year out from his draft, it’s nearly unanimous that he’s going to be picked first overall — although G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson could give him a run for his money.
The scales just got tipped further in Wembanyama’s favor thanks to newly documented measurements shared by Draft Express co-founder and ESPN draft analyst Jonathan Givony. Following his report that Scoot’s G League Ignite and Wemby’s Metropolitans 92 will meet for an exhibition set in Las Vegas, Givony updated Wembanyama’s official physical listings:
The 18-year old Wembanyama, who recently measured 7-foot-4 barefoot with an 8-foot wingspan, will draw a huge audience of NBA decision makers for the pair of exhibition games in Vegas, marking a significant opportunity for Henderson to stake his claim as the No. 1 pick.
What an incredible spectacle this matchup will be for the evolving NBA Draft commun—wait.
Hold on. 7-foot-what with how long of a wingspan?
Victor Wembanyama has an unbelievable blend of size and talent.
The most common measurement to accept is a player’s height in shoes since that’s how tall they will appear on the court. So at 18, Wembanyama is already the same height as the league’s tallest player, Boban Marjanovic. His wingspan is also two inches longer than the longest recorded span in the NBA: a tie between Boban and Magic center Mo Bamba at 7 feet, 10 inches long.
Physical attributes can only take you so far, but Wembanyama legitimately has the skill and instincts to put his size to use. As evidenced by his play overseas, the teenage sensation has the dexterity to transform a team’s defense. Using active hands and feet to anticipate his opponent’s movement, Wembanyama tracks slashers from the perimeter and times his jump to deflect shots at the basket. When rotating from the weakside or defending the paint head-on, the projected No. 1 pick rotates precisely to alter and oftentimes swat layups and dunk attempts.
There’s more to his defensive capabilities than simply blocking shots, though. Wembanyama uses his height and reach to close out effectively on shooters, poke at the ball, generate fastbreaks and force ball-handlers to get rid of the rock by locking up on the perimeter. Blowing by Wemby is a tall task since he doesn’t need to be as quick as his matchup to deter their shots.
For as unique as his defensive impact projects to be, things get even more unusual on offense. Wembanyama uses finesse and sound footwork in the paint to score in the post or from dump-offs and cuts. He’s an increasingly effective pull-up jump shooter with range beyond the 3-point line and a versatile bag of dribble moves to create his own opportunities. He is a lock to dunk at least a few times per game, and because he can see over the top of his defenders, Wembanyama has shown great promise as a passer.
Ultimately, the measurements are second to the skill level displayed early in his basketball career. Even if he were a 7-footer with a comparable wingspan and the same talent level, NBA execs would face the same question come Summer 2023: Wemby or Scoot?
But size matters in the NBA, and with these most recent measurements, it’s hard to foresee anyone passing on Wembanyama with the first pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.