The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Hot Shot: Victor Wembanyama: Hall of Fame or Hall of Failure?

NAHS Artist Joyce Ren

A true sports prodigy is rare —  someone who’s broken the mold and is projected to be something great. In the world of basketball, Victor Wembanyama is that player — a 7-foot-5 power forward who can dribble and shoot on the wing but can block any attempt at a shot with an 8-foot wingspan. Many have called him the “next LeBron James,” and James himself even called Wembanyama an “alien” for the unique way he plays. To already be called the next all-time great is an unbelievable achievement for the 18-year-old rookie, and we’ve only begun to see his potential. 

Before talking about his skills, it’s crucial to look at his rise to stardom. Born in France, he first gained international attention on Metropolitans 92, a team in the Ligue Nationale de Basketball (LNB) Pro A, France’s highest national league. At 18 years old, he was one of the youngest on the team, yet, perhaps, the best player in the league. Most Valuable Player. Defensive Player of the Year. Best Young Player. He has all of the awards you could think of.

Wembanyama’s hype truly began to rise during his time with the Met 92. Not only did he dominate the LNB Pro A, but he did it in a truly fascinating way. He was the tallest player in the league, yet he ran the floor with speed and agility unique for a player of his height. 

With a dominant season this past year, he was selected first overall in the 2023 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft by the San Antonio Spurs. Wembanyama is also a clear example of a growing theme across the NBA of taller, lankier players who have elite shooting and ball-handling skills, such as Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki, players who Wembanyama was predicted to exceed.

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But upon entering the Summer League, a tournament for the newer players of the NBA, Wembanyama’s flaws immediately became apparent. His first game was a failure, finishing the contest with only 5 points on lackluster shooting. However, in his final second game, he scored a team-leading 27 points. This point differential highlights the main issue in Wembanyama’s game — efficiency.

For Wembanyama to be as successful as fans first thought, he’ll have to improve some of the glaring flaws in his game. His issues begin with his height, which at first seems like a cheat code, but his large frame might be somewhat of a detriment to his career. At his height, it’s extremely difficult to gain weight to compete with the much shorter and heavier rim protectors of the league, as he weighs only 210 pounds. And with his physique, injuries will likely dominate his time in the NBA, as he simply isn’t ready to compete in the foul-heavy and post-up style of play in today’s modern game.

Wembanyama’s talent as a multi-faceted player might also be his greatest weakness. He doesn’t necessarily fit into any “role” in the NBA, as he tries to play more on the perimeter and score long-range shots, a skill he hasn’t perfected yet. He doesn’t use his height to his advantage in the post, yet he doesn’t have the strength to fight inside either.

While Wembanyama is still young and entering his first NBA season, the weaknesses in his game are apparent. If we want to find the NBA’s future MVP, we shouldn’t start by looking at Victor Wembanyama. At least not yet.

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Tyler Elman, Staff Writer

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