Victor Wembanyama. (Sonia Canada/Getty Images)
Defensive tools/advantage: Standing 7’3″ with a wingspan of 7’9″, Victor Wembanyama’s measurements mirror those of Rudy Gobert. Exceptional instincts, timing, and mobility help Wembanyama maximize the effectiveness of his absurd rim-guard or space-guard tools. They help with recovery defense and create room for error, as he can still make plays on the ball if beaten or initially pushed away from the action. He crushes shots from the weak side or on the ball into the post, some without him even having to jump. He recorded an 11.0 block percentage between the French Premier League and Euroleague as an 18-year-old. At the 2021 World Cup, he blocked eight shots against a United States team that included older and eventual first-round picks in Chet Holmgren, Jaden Ivey, Johnny Davis, Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Peyton Watson.
Tools/coordination for the attack: Between the standing reach and the coordination of Wembanyama, he is an easy target for transitions, dump downs, lobs and cuts. The quick and unique movement from catch to finish is most noticeable when he received passes under the rim. He also has a telling second jump for a player of his size, leading to second chance points.
Inner Competence: Unlike Gobert, Wembanyama offers more skill, movement and offensive touch in the post. He has a counter-footwork to free himself from the return to the basket. He doesn’t need a lot of steps to get close to the rim, and he can do over-the-shoulder or hard-angle shots with either hand if he can’t get past the cylinder.
Perimeter skill: In 99 games since 2019, Wembanyama has made 67 three-pointers and 71.3% of his free throws. Such early percentages are not really relevant. The markings, eye test on his mechanics/comfort and touch show a player who is clearly on track to have a peak jumper and regularly threaten defenses as a shooter, which is highly unusual for a star 7’3″ defensive.
Where the All-NBA potential lights up is on the flashes of self-creation and specialized shooting. The world has never seen a player of his size executing finishing drives, dribbling shots or pinfalls from the post with such fluidity.
Who passed: Wembanyama shows off his IQ and feel on fine, well-placed entry passes into the post. His skill and vision show on assists, and his processing speed is evident on passes where he doesn’t need to catch and think before sending it to an open teammate.
Solidity/durability: Whoever lands the #1 pick will surely consult many doctors about their body and biomechanics. Although the injuries he has already suffered have been isolated or unrelated to the fear instilled by his 220-pound body, Wembanyama’s long, lean arms and legs could be caught in compromising positions throughout games.
Despite being one of the youngest rotational players in the Euroleague, he also shot just 34.8% from the floor. Creating a separation and managing contacts will be challenges at the start of his professional career.
Decision making: He can sometimes be too laid back or ambitious with his passing. He will also force plays and get caught with no plan or counter after making a move, resulting in a turnover.
Shooting reliability: The shooting praise has always been more of an eye test that predicts improvement over Wembanyama’s actual results. He still shot a combined 27.5% from deep in 2021-22 – a figure that’s okay at the moment given his age, height and other strengths.