While the Portland Trail Blazers fell flat this year, some people are choosing to look on the bright side. That bright side is the possibility of the number one pick. The consensus first choice would be Victor Wembanyama, the lanky forward/center from France. If the lottery balls drop perfectly, the Blazers would undoubtedly take Wembanyama, so let’s dig into who he is and how he would fit into the rotation.
Victor Wembanyama is an absolute physical marvel. His height remains a mystery, somewhere between 7’2″ and 7’4″, with an insane 8-foot wingspan; he’s like a pterodactyl on the court. And yeah, sure, he’s skinny as a rail, but don’t let that fool you. This dude has got some serious coordination and ball skills that are straight-up jaw-dropping.
Defensively, Victor is a game-changer, plain and simple. His length in the lane is a nightmare for any opposing player who thinks they will get an easy bucket. He’s quick off his feet and has unreal lateral agility for a guy his size. His shot-blocking game is off the charts. He knows and executes his role perfectly, staying tall and avoiding those pesky fouls.
On offense, Victor is a Swiss Army knife. He can stretch the floor with a buttery-smooth jumper as pretty as a picture. And get this; he’s a pretty darn good ball-handler too! He can create his shot and make plays for his teammates. He reminds me of Kristaps Porzingis, but with even more versatility and play-making ability.
Now, of course, every prospect is flawed. Victor’s apparent weakness is his lack of strength. But he’s young and has plenty of time to fill out that frame. It doesn’t seem like he’d fill out like Giannis Antentokuompo and look more like Kevin Durant. And honestly, there’s not an area of his game where he’s lacking skill or ability. He needs to keep refining his skills, making intelligent decisions, and working on that strength.
How would he fit in with the Blazers? Looking at the current roster construction, the Blazers must decide on Jerami Grant. Yes, he’s a great scorer, but he could be a better defender. He’ll probably garner around $20 million per year in free agency, so would you rather have the established veteran scorer or take a shot on Victor? I bet the Blazers would pick Victor. I don’t see him starting as the center, strictly due to his skin and bone appearance, much like how Kristaps Porzingis plays power forward at 7’3″.
However, the difference between Kristaps and Victor is that Wemby can go coast to coast from a rebound. He might not be able to box out NBA centers, but he can grab rebounds thanks to his sheer size. This coast-to-coast play style would fit great with the current roster construction. Running on the fast break is something that the Blazers did exceptionally well because they let Lillard grab the board and facilitate. Replace Dame with Wemby leading the charge, freeing Dame to do whatever he wants in the fastbreak.
Defensively, the biggest issue the Blazers ran into this year was their half-court defense. Players like Shaedon Sharpe would get stuck on screen switches, leaving his man a free lane to the basket or an open shot for the help defenders player. However, because of Victor’s wingspan, his length will still allow him to affect shots even if he gets hung up on a screen. As I mentioned before, his lateral quickness is excellent for his size, so he should have no problem staying in front of forwards, but bigger, rougher players might be able to force Wemby into foul trouble.
Victor Wembanyama could be the game-changer that this team needs. Sure, he’s skinny, but he’s also a physical freak of nature with unbelievable coordination and ball skills. Defensively, he’s a nightmare for opponents with his length, shot-blocking ability, and lateral agility. And on offense, he’s a Swiss Army knife that can stretch the floor, create his shot, and make plays for his teammates. Let’s just hope those lottery balls fall in the right place!