At this point in the draft cycle, it appears Victor Wembanyama is the clear favorite to be taken No. 1 overall in the 2023 NBA Draft. While this is a loaded upcoming class, he’s at a different level than his peers.
Just this week, the 7-foot-4 center played against the G League Ignite twice in three days, producing 73 points, 15 rebounds and nine blocks in those two contests. He also knocked down nine triples, which is phenomenal for a guy of his size.
This week, the Draft Digest team gives their thoughts on which NBA team needs Wembanyama on their team the most next season.
I’m of the opinion that the Indiana Pacers could benefit most from landing the most coveted draft prize ever, Victor Wembanayama. Indiana has long lived in NBA mediocrity, and it’s been decades, potentially even eons, since they’ve had a generational talent. And all signs are pointing towards Wembanyama being prolific enough to carry a franchise into contention himself eventually.Alongside premier guard Tyrese Halliburton, the Wembanyama-led Pacers could thrive for a decade plus. As an added bonus, the basketball would be beautiful.
It has to be a small market that needs him most, given the draft is the primary mechanism of bringing in elite talent. As such, the edge has to go to Oklahoma City.
Furthermore, can you imagine a frontcourt pairing of Wembanyama with Chet Holmgren? The Thunder would almost immediately have one of the best defenses in the entire NBA while having a duo a 7-foot floor spacers on the offensive end.
Any team would be lucky to land the French phenom, but I believe OKC needs him most.
After a tedious, drawn-out process, where I used every conceivable metric known to man, I have finally reached a thorough conclusion to that question. Victor Wembanyama is outright needed by the teams in the NBA that *drum roll*…….. play basketball.
Look, I get it. You wanted a different answer. You wanted me to bring up the Jazz or the Spurs, or the teams that realistically have a shot at him next summer. But nah, man. Every single NBA franchise needs a 7-foot-5 center who plays like Kevin Durant offensively, and has Rudy Gobert upside defensively.
I don’t care if you’re the Golden State Warriors or the 1996 Chicago Bulls. You need this kid, because he, more than anyone currently outside the NBA, is the future. Think about it. His upside has legitimate GOAT potential. Whether he realizes that upside is a question for another day, but let’s not beat around the bush in terms of his upside, which is why he’s so captivating in the first place. Is it a cop-out to say every team needs him? Probably. Is it still overwhelmingly true? Absolutely.
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The OKC Thunder need Wembanyama the most. He’s a generational talent and outlier big that if paired with fellow outlier big, Chet Holmgren, plus an immensely talented young core led by SGA and Josh Giddey, could set OKC up for a sustained long term run of title contention and generate excitement similar to the Durant-Harden-Westbrook era. This would be a huge win for small market teams and arguably the ideal destination for Wembanyama’s development.
If this was a regular No. 1 pick, I could just give a regular answer, look at Vegas over/unders for the upcoming season and take my pick from any team at the bottom (Indiana, Houston, San Antonio, Utah, OKC…).
Wembanyama, however, is not your regular top pick; if he reaches his potential, he will be the once-in-a-generation-type of player who can do something even more difficult than turning around a tanking team: leading a franchise out of the pits of perpetual averageness.Which brings me to the question: When was the last time that the Charlotte Hornets had this type of talent? If we take the NBA 75th Anniversary Team as a reference, the answer is “never”, as just one player from the entire list ever played for the franchise: Robert Parish… at 41 years of age.
Yes, LaMelo Ball is an incredible player who is well on his way to become a perennial all-star and maybe potential MVP candidate in the future, but this goes deeper than who the Hornets have on roster right now. We are talking about a franchise that hasn’t made it past the first round of the playoffs in the last twenty years and has had far more misses than hits when it comes to drafting.
Consider this as karmic retribution for missing out on Anthony Davis in the 2012 Draft after going 7-59 the season prior. If someone is going to take this franchise to the promised land, it’s a talent of the caliber of Wembanyama.
The Sacramento Kings came in at a close second, but they were disqualified for two reasons. First, for enjoying a level of success between 2000 and 2004 that the Hornets frankly never had. Second, and maybe most important, is that unlike the Hornets, some of the Kings’ woes have been self-inflicted (see: Doncic, Luka).
I am going to go with the San Antonio Spurs with the Utah Jazz being a close second and the Indiana Pacers in third. There is an argument that the other four teams that could possibly land the No. 1 overall pick have a player on the roster that holds the possibility of being a face of the franchise type of player.
Paolo Banchero in Orlando, Jalen Green or Jabari Smith in Houston, Cade Cunningham or Jaden Ivey in Detroit, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander or Chet Holmgren in OKC. I am not saying none of these teams could use Wembanyama, they obviously all could, but the question is who needs him the most.
Indiana comes in third but not really in consideration because of Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin, both players whom I like a lot, having a case to have the type of upside I previously mentioned. I think that puts the debate solely between the teams who do not currently have a young player on the roster you could see eventually becoming that guy.
That leaves the only two teams I really considered in the Spurs and Jazz. I gave the Spurs a nod because the Jazz currently have a load of draft picks, with possibly more incoming, to take multiple chances at building the roster back up.
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