Breaking down Victor Wembanyama’s game
Victor Wembanyama’s final line of 37 points, on 11 of 20 shooting and seven of 11 from 3-point range, and five blocks showed his game-breaking potential on both ends of the court. In the history of the NBA, only once has a player hit seven threes and registered five blocks in a single game.
3-point shooting has become a make-or-break skill for NBA players. Can players survive without elite shooting from distance? Yes, many do, but it requires them to be truly special in other areas of the game. Wembanyama projects as special on defense, but it's nice that he is already special from behind the arc.
There aren’t many seven-footers, let alone players 6’9 and taller, who can effortlessly hit a one-dribble three. He also showed off his ability to rise off of movement and hit contested shots from the perimeter.
That shot looks like a normal 3-pointer, but it’s anything but coming from a seven-footer. Here is a clip of Karl-Anthony Towns, one of the greatest shooting bigs ever, bombing a three.
Towns doesn’t get anywhere near the lift that Wembanyama does. The fact that Wembanyama, at 7’4 with a 7’11 wingspan, also gets the lift on his jumper that is associated with players a foot shorter is absurd. People talk about Kevin Durant and Michael Porter Jr. having unblockable jumpers. They may need a new term to describe Wembanyama’s.
What makes Wembanyama’s performance even more exciting is how much work he still has to be a fully formed player. His defensive fundamentals still need work, he fouled out late in the game, and he only snagged four rebounds and didn’t register a single assist.
Wembanyama has shown passing potential as a prospect, but the lack of boards could be a concern early in his career. Height and length are a tremendous advantage in most areas, but strength and weight are how you secure rebounds. It isn’t surprising that a 7’4 18-year-old is rail thin, but how much strength and weight he can put on by physical maturity could determine if he’s a solid rebounder or an elite one.
The player that Wembanyama currently is would still be worthy of the first pick, but the fact that he is just scratching the surface of his game is what makes him generational. He’s a perimeter-oriented scorer that has the skills and physical ability to become an assassin in the post, and his defense, which is already game-breaking, still has plenty of room to grow.