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Will Victor Wembanyama actually live up to the hype?!

Credit: Victor Wembayama

We are now just hours from the 2023 NBA Draft, and the only thing that's certain is uncertainty.

Well, and Victor Wembanyama going No. 1 on Thursday night.

At this point it's not even a debate, as Wembanyama has been locked in at the No. 1 spot since long before last year's 2022 draft ended.

But with it, comes a very fascinating question: Can Wembanyama actually live up to the near impossible hype?

Aaron Torres and college hoops writer Zac Krull debate.

Zac Krull

For the past 12 months, no one has been able to say anything about the 2023 NBA Draft without mentioning Victor Wembanyama. The French phenom standing at a ridiculous 7’4”, with a ridiculous skill level will hear his name called first on Thursday night when the San Antonio Spurs are on the clock. We’ve known for a while now that Wemby is the biggest can’t miss prospect in the draft.

The question now is just how good will he be?

If it all clicks, the answer is "really, really good."

Potentially great even.

One thing that really stands out when you evaluate Wembanyama as a prospect, is his maturity and the fact that he realizes his potential. For most people in his position, being labeled the “maybe the greatest prospect in the history of team sports” by Adrian Wojnarowski might be a little overwhelming. Victor however, has really impressed in terms of his attitude and mindset and seems like someone only focused on basketball and getting better.

On the court, it's even more impressive. There haven’t been many players in the history of the NBA at his size that have been able to handle the basketball like the 7'4 Frenchman can. Wembanyama’s ability to make plays and create for others is something that will translate into the league with ease.

In addition, the big man has the ability to shoot the ball from three which is an absolute must in today’s NBA. Shooting only 27 percent from three this past season in the top professional league in France wasn’t ideal. However, this was the first time in his basketball career that he attempted over one three-pointer per game and that is something that should improve within time.

The main concern with Wembanyama is his size and if that is something that could lead to injury issues in the future. There have been plenty of players with similar size including Yao Ming, Bill Walton and others who had a ceiling through the roof, but could never reach that potential due to an inability to stay on the basketball court. Although it is important to mention that today’s modern day medicine and athletic training is significantly better than a decade ago, let alone more than that, being this big will absolutely be a concern when it comes to Wembanyama.

At the end of the day, I see Webanyama entering the league and immediately becoming one of the 50 best players in the sport if not better. Having someone with his size and unique skill set is something that fans of the NBA will be in awe of right away. Despite all of the hype and just how good his potential is, I also believe it is unfair to predict him as an all time great or label him as a disappointment if he doesn’t reach that point.

There have been plenty of players that have entered the league with high expectations, but could never reach their full potential due to zero fault of their own. Hopefully, Wembanyama will be able to reach as high as his ceiling really is, but the amount of things that need to go right will make it difficult.

Aaron Torres

So Zac hit on most of the points that I would've made, if I led off this little affair.

On the one hand, the talent is undeniable. Seven-foot, four inches, with an ability to beat people off the bounce and step back and hit threes? Come on. Not to mention that he should immediately step into the league and become one of the best rim protectors in the sport Day 1.

The thing about this though is how the question is framed.

Will he actually live up to the hype? That's where it gets complicated.

Because here's the thing: Let's operate under a best-case scenario health wise. Let's say he bucks the trend and stays healthy. Let's say that he does all that in the load management era, when teams are overly cautious, often to the detriment (in my opinion) of the actual player.

That's the easy part. Staying healthy.

The hard part is living up to the hype.

Remember, as Zac pointed out, earlier this spring Woj called him "the greatest prospect in the history of American team sports." While I think that's a little hyperbolic, it also sets a basically impossible bar to reach.

It means that simply being really good isn't good enough. Heck, being a Hall of Famer isn't either.

Keep in mind he's going to a San Antonio organization where Tim Duncan led the Spurs to five NBA titles. That's all-time great stuff.

And to me, to talk about him as an all-time great, that's kind of the floor.

Jordan has six rings. Kobe has five. Tim Duncan five. LeBron four. Shaq four.

These are the people we're supposedly comparing Wembanyama to.

So, through no fault of his own, I'm going to say that he will not live up to the hype, only because the hype is so absurd.

For him to live up to that hype (again, as the "greatest prospect in American team sports history"), we're probably talking about, minimum a 10-time All-Star, and four to five time champ. We're talking about him as a game-changing player for the next probably 10-15 years.

Put simply, that is just a wild, completely unfair burden to put onto someone. And again, that's before we factor in that there really is no precedent for a 7'4 guy to stay healthy, especially in the load management era.

Because of it, I'm going to say that no, he won't live up to the hype.

Because realistically, no one really could.

Follow Zac on Twitter - @ZacKrull_

Follow Aaron on Twitter - @Aaron_Torres


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