Wembanyama slams a new “alien” performance and ignites the NBA

Basketball America has been warned a “Wembamania” is actually looming. Phenomenon Victor Wembanyama is more than ever a favorite for the N.1 of the next draft: Still ultra-dominant, he led the Metropolitans to success in Thursday’s friendly against G-League Ignite (112-106). 36 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks to his credit, down from 37 points on Tuesday.

The 18-year-old Frenchman, followed for a few years only by observers and already announcing the upcoming phenomenon, confirmed all the good people who thought of him for his first steps in the United States, which he dreams of conquering. And all this in front of about 200 representatives, general managers and recruiters from the thirty NBA franchises who came to scrutinize him.

“A wonderful experience”

An unprecedented promotion for a prospect, non-American at that, who was putting enormous pressure on his young shoulders at what was expected of him. But in two games, like so many shows of power, buoyed by an outrageous talent and exceptional physical ability, he got everyone to agree while proving extremely comfortable and mature in the face of media frenzy.

“This experience was unique, great. I don’t know how it could have gone better,” Wembanyama commented in a post-game press conference that was his second in less than 48 hours. And was a rematch against the Ignite, a team made up in part of young talent like him, likely to be selected by a franchise in 2023, who won in the first round (122-115).

Beware of “tanking,” warns the NBA boss

This time, Wembanyama not only shone better individually, but led his team to victory. After his 37 points (7/11 behind the arc) and 5 successful blocks on Tuesday, he is doing almost as well offensively, but is even more active on both sides of the field and adds 4 assists. He also made the show by slamming a dunk after an alley-oop (pass in the air) initiated by Hugo Besson.

He was crucial in the fourth quarter in particular, scoring 15 points that went a long way in helping the Metropolitans come back from twelve units down at the start of that final act. His last-second interception, the only one of the game, and two free-throws scored finally sealed his team’s victory.

All under the eyes of his compatriot Rudy Gobert, who arrived as a neighbor from Las Vegas, twenty kilometers away, where the blues linchpin is doing a preseason internship with his new club, the Minnesota Timberwolves. “It’s really exciting, we’re lucky to have such talent, we’ve never seen a player like Victor,” Gobert said at the microphone of ESPN, who were broadcasting the game live.

NBA boss Adam Silver has warned franchises that “tanking,” the practice of dropping down the ranks to stand a better chance of getting the first draft pick in the lottery, will not be tolerated: “I know a lot of teams drool ahead, but everyone will have to fight regularly. »

It is clear that the French “generational talent”, if it doesn’t hurt, will continue to be in demand. A franchise boss told ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski, on condition of anonymity, that the design of “Wemba” could add $500 million to the lucky winner’s value.

“Not done yet”

“I’ve known him since he was 13, we knew he would be one of a kind. He’s very mature, he knows where he wants to go. I don’t think a comparison is possible,” added the one who intends to form with him an impressive indoor duo in the French team at the next international events, namely the 2023 World Championships and the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Meanwhile, Wembanyama’s main target is the United States, where he is already attracting the admiration of NBA stars, most notably LeBron James (Lakers), who dubbed him an “alien” on Wednesday night.

“It’s an honor to have great players talk about me like that, but it doesn’t change anything. I thought it was cool, but I need to focus on my goals. I haven’t achieved anything yet, I haven’t played an NBA game, I haven’t been drafted,” he said undeterred after the game.

June 22, 2023 is still a long way off, more than eight months. But for now his trajectory is perfect: Wembanyama has never been so well placed and on course to become the first Frenchman in history to be selected first.

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