Who is Victor Wembanyama? What you need to know

The 2023 draft may already have a main attraction with France’s Victor Wembanyama NBA eligibility drawing near. The 7’3″ Parisian big man might just be the next great star in the Association, and teams are already positioning themselves to add the intriguing phenom to their future plans.

Every so often prospects create this kind of epic gravity. Zion Williamson, Anthony Davis, and LeBron James are among those generational players who earned name-brand recognition before ever stepping on to an NBA court. It appears Victor Wembanyama is destined for that same hype.

So what makes this young man so special? What is he good at and where are his weaknesses? Who is Victor Wembanyama?

Who is Victor Wembanyama?

Standing 7-foot 3 inches tall at just 19 years of age, Victor Wembanyama is already a force to be reckoned with. Add a gargantuan 7’9″ wingspan into the mix, and you’re looking at something closer to a Monstar than an NBA rookie.

Outside of Utah’s Tacko Fall, Wembanyama will likely be one of the tallest players in the NBA if he indeeds suits up for the ’23-24 season. He’s got the build of a lanky Boban Mojanovic, but importantly, has the offensive finesse of an Anthony Davis.

Wembanyama has some seriously athletic genes. His father is a former long jumper and his mother played basketball growing up. His sister, meanwhile, won a gold medal for France during the 2017 U16 World Basketball Championship.

A pure athlete

Wembanyama is fresh off of two consecutive Best Young Player awards in the French national basketball league, and inked a two-year deal with Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 in Paris earlier this summer. Born in Nanterre, France just outside of the French capital, the hometown kid has certainly attracted fans far and wide — Wembanyama has been playing high-level basketball around Europe since his tenth birthday.

Victor Wembanyama grew up playing basketball under the watchful eye of his mother. As an early teen, he was already playing for FC Barcelona’s youth team. Like other European prospects, Wembanyama has spent his teenage years playing alongside grown men in EuroCup and beyond.

To add to his immense basketball prowess, Wembanyama also spent time playing goalie as a soccer player, was an accomplished track star, and practiced judo for a short while. His mother, a youth basketball coach, steered him toward hoops.

Huge potential

It really can’t be underscored just how impressively big Victor Wembanyama is. When he does step on to an NBA floor, he’s going to dwarf even the most potent big men.

The history of hyper-tall NBA players is a checkered one. He’ll need to be mindful of building out his frame and work to avoid injury. Players of his height are generally more injury prone. Kristaps Porzingis has a similar build, and he’s had several major health issues in his career.

Still, Wembanyama’s defensive potential is hard to ignore. He can close out on an opponent’s shot with frightening speed, and his instincts are already incredibly sharp. Years of goalkeeping and martial arts might be the perfect compliment to becoming a force on defense.

Insatiable offense

Whether or not Wembanyama bulks up enough to really be an elite defensive player at the NBA level remains to be seen. It’s possible he’ll always be a little too thin to keep players like Joel Embiid or Giannis Antetokounmpo in check. (Not that anyone really can.)

On offense, though, Victor Wembanyama is truly spectacular. His footwork is polished and clean — he really knows how to get to his spots. From there, his immense wingspan makes it almost impossible to bother his jump shot. Think of Kevin Durant rising up over defenders with an extra half-foot of length to work with.

Wembanyama needs to work on his efficiency, something that will come with age. Likewise, sometimes he can be a little too impulsive on defense. After all, he’s still a teenager. All the same, Victor Wembanyama appears poised to make a big splash in the NBA. He’s the name to watch at the 2023 draft and beyond.



Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire