Victor Wembanyama Is Overhyped.

Read only the headline and call me a hater. That’s fine with me. As someone who grew up in the early 2000’s I’m used to a world that over uses the term. In essence, being a hater often means that if you disagree with me, or the masses on a person or thing that I, or we adore, you must only feel that way because of hate or bias that drives you towards dislike.

No matter how used to the point of view I am, make no mistake that I hate it. There’s even times I find it offensive. Honestly, sometimes I am a hater and it’s fun to be that. If not a hater it’s fun to be a troll at times. It’s so much fun that there are times I cop the opposite opinion, play the devil’s advocate and enjoy the fun of making people really angry about things that I really don’t care about all that much.

However, I don’t often do this in sports. Frankly, a person who starts a sports related media company probably isn’t the kind of person who thinks about sports in the kind of shallow, trolling way I described before. I’m actually not that into abrasive takes for the sake of being different. I’m the type that’s willing to loudly express a contrary opinion because I’m not as worried about being wrong as I am excited to have complex conversation about what makes me see something the way I do.

Long intro aside, let’s have a brief chat about the headline. That’s why we’re here right?

The Undying Infatuation With Center Size & Guard Skill

If there is something biased about my opinion of Wemby it’s the fact that I don’t always get the infatuation that basketball media has with 7 footers who can dribble, shoot and create offensive game the same way you expect it from a guard or wing player. I think that the one guard skill big men should have or are made exponentially greater by having is passing. Being able to find teammates with your back to basket, when stalled on or the block or while at the top of the key such as a Nikola Jokic, adds significant stress on a defense.

However, I don’t think that 7 foot or taller bigs who can dribble and shoot threes have proven to be winners in the NBA. Its an archetype that makes you problems on 2K in the park but the idea that this is extremely rare now days is not all that true, nor is the notion that these kinds of players are franchise pillars.

I admit that the total package of guard or wing skills doesn’t exist in many 7 foot players not named Kevin Durant and that makes Wemby really different. However, bigs with guard/wing abilities are all over the NBA. One of my favorite case studies of the archetype is Karl Anthony-Towns, a big who believes he’s the best shooter in the league and has such a disdain for using his size to dominate, rather than his wing skills, caused his team to trade for a true center in Rudy Gobert. KAT would literally rather play the 4 and it doesn’t make his team any better. He is widely talented but the Wolves have yet to be a contender with him.

Or we can talk about Anthony Davis who has a similar issue. What’s the difference however? AD is an elite defender with a grown man body who is a defensive black hole when locked in. At the end of the day he’s most effective when he accepts that the mismatch that his size is his biggest advantage, rather than his shooting and wing skills.

We could even take a look at Joel Embiid who at the end of the day, became a different level of player once Doc Rivers arrived and convinced him to focus on being dominant in the paint.

To me, I’d be most impressed with Wemby if his focus was being that kind of big. In a league that has gone small, size and athleticism can definitely reign, but how much of an advantage are you really gaining if you’d rather keep a 7’4 frame on the perimeter. I would say Kristaps Porzingis career can help answer that question.

Impact On Winning

I’m sorry, no matter what the media hype is saying I don’t buy it. I pay attention to top international prospects and I have learned the difference between the leagues. The league(s) that Wemby plays in are not in any way a true test to his skill and talent. The NBA is a totally different level comparably and there will be an adjustment period.

With that said, it brings me to main concern. As I said before I think winning bigs win with their size around the basket and not on the wing. It’s hard for me not to judge Wemby harshly, when I have that belief because he hasn’t won anything on any level and he’s yet to play on anything truly close, including the G-League play (obviously) that’s anywhere near the NBA level of competition.

Luka Doncic was at least an MVP and Champion of the most competitive basketball league outside of the NBA. Wemby has been knocked out of the playoffs consistently in his.

I think there’s real issues on the court leading to this. I don’t want to harp on his size as I believe that he can overcome this, but at the end of the day the small frame shows up consistently as an issue on both sides of the court. Wemby’s tendency to favor a Durant like wing game over being in the paint and tendency to be bullied while in the paint will be an issue.

The Best, Most Anticipated Prospect of All Time?

No. Just simply no. People saying this may be right in the long time if he reaches his full potential. I accept and recognize that. However, LeBron still exist and to not understand the hype, anticipation and expectations of LeBron’s career before he entered the NBA, is to not experienced it, or to have willfully forgotten it. This isn’t a hindsight opinion. There has been nothing like and may never will be. If you disagree do your research, I’m moving on.

Conclusion

I’m not saying Wemby can’t be or won’t be an all-time great. I’m not saying I think he’ll be a bust or a scrub. I actually think that his defensive ability and shooting should give him an extremely high floor, just as I thought of Chet Holmgren coming out. However, I just don’t believe that if that is the calling card of his career that he’ll meet the level of hype he’s receiving. Maybe he becomes an absolute star but if that’s in the mold of a Karl Anthony-Towns, then he still to me would be far below the expectations being set for him. This level of hype requires Hall of Fame, top 25 player and I question that he meets that. Like all opinions I hold strongly, if I’m wrong I’ll accept the result but if I’m right, I will be sure to remind everyone.

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