With NBA executives betting that 7-foot-4 French rookie Victor Webanyama’s performance on Tuesday could have a transformative effect on the NBA’s tank and trade market this season, his agent insists there are no plans to hear some balls. Team executives suggested closing the No. 1 overall pick ahead of the 2023 NBA draft expected in June.
“People in the NBA told me to stop him, and we’re not going to stop him,” Buna N’Diaye told the source on Wednesday. “If we had that kind of conversation with [Wembanyama], he would look at us and say, ‘What are you talking about?’ He would never agree with that. He wants to compete and get better. For Victor, basketball is Number one, everything else second. He was so angry that he lost.”
Wembanyama’s talent by a solid performance from G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson, who is the second overall pick in the draft. Rarely in the history of a potential 1-2 draft matchup have two players displayed such a high level of skill, maturity, and potential in a head-to-head encounter.
As impressive as Henderson’s potential as the team’s main guard was, Wynbanyama’s unprecedented size, skill, and substance at age 18 allowed the roughly 200 in attendance in suburban Las Vegas. NBA executives and scouts are fascinated and reiterated the belief that this promises to be a transformational player and a historic NBA draft. “Victor distorted the reality of basketball,” a general manager told the source on Wednesday. “After that presentation, the tank/trade market will change.
In Las Vegas late Wednesday, Vinbanyama was baffled by the idea of NBA teams drafting him for a better chance.
“Certainly, the word and the meaning behind it is a little weird,” he said. “I never want to lose. It’s just a personal thing. But I try to stay away from it. Either way, it affects my ultimate goal. All I can do for me is focus on the work itself. “
Wembanyama’s performance in Metropolitans’ 92 loss to G League Ignite 37 points, seven 3-pointers, and five blocks underscores what teams scouts have come to believe over the years: He’s a historical talent. As the general manager of a team with a shot at the No. 1 overall pick in 2023, he told the source on Wednesday morning: “He’s a 7-foot-4 Durant, going to block, and he’s even Nothing close to his future. He’s going to be the most hyped player since LeBron.”
The impact of Wembanyama’s performance on national television factors in how aggressively the team joins the bottom of the competition. After Tuesday night, the front office has a better chance of pitching the tank strategy to owners and fans. Multiple basketball executives told the source Wednesday that they had conversations with their groups that expressed a better understanding of the transformational value of drafting Vinbanyama and providing the best for their teams. The steps required for odds are somewhat painful. In addition, the possibility of Henderson, the explosive G League Ignite guard with 28 points and nine assists on Tuesday, looms as the second overall pick gives the team a more decisive shot at bottoming out in the standings.
In recent years, the playoffs creating playoff berths for the No. 9 and No. 10 seeds in each conference have prompted many teams to acquire rather than drop players at the trade deadline. This year, teams with slow starts may decide to go in the other direction, offloading players from the rotation and letting other players sit outside for extended periods.
Not only will there be competition at the bottom, but playoffs and title contenders will also have the chance to acquire more impactful players in trades. Executives believe that could include more players ahead of the February trade deadline. For the team with the three worst records, the odds of landing either Venbanyama or Henderson rose to 27 percent.
What’s more, Wembanyama’s competitive drive and well-rounded background make him an alluring prospect. To those who have done the research, it’s no surprise that he would be so sloppy in rejecting the idea of modifying his treatment regimen, let alone shutting down the season to protect his body and draft status.
Some have questioned the risk-reward of accepting invitations to play these showcase games in Las Vegas, traveling long distances to the U.S. for road games with NBA rules and referees. What if jet lag caused him to perform poorly? What if he is injured? Despite all things that could go wrong, the journey turned out to be a boon for Vinbanyama’s U.S. debut and global reputation. Tuesday night’s loss bothered him so much, his agent said, that Umbanyama privately suggested he might try to play and score 50 on Thursday to ensure he gets the best results.
“We’re here to show everyone Victor and teach him what the next 15 years are going to look like in terms of managing expectations and paying attention to him,” Ndiaye told the source. “We’re here to learn. We want Victor to be The best he can be. In the next game, he might struggle. He needs to know how to be consistent. Repeat, get better, learn.” The impact of all of this could change the landscape of the NBA season.