Kenny Smith says it’s only going to take Victor Wembanyama 4 years to win MVP

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read
Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

Kenny Smith is the latest NBA observer to make a bold claim about the future of Victor Wembanyama, and it could have the San Antonio Spurs rookie phenom on a historic timeline.

Wembanyama is universally considered a generational prospect and is perhaps the most hyped player to enter the NBA since LeBron James in 2003. The No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, Wembanyama combines size with skills and agility rarely seen from a player his size (he’s reportedly just shy of 7-foot-4).

His NBA life didn’t get off to the greatest of starts with a poor performance in his Summer League debut, lowlighted by 2-for-13 shooting. But he followed that up with a game of 27 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots, showing the talent that’s had him on the NBA radar for years.

If Wembanyama were to win NBA MVP inside of Smith’s timeline, he would be among the youngest to ever win the award. Derrick Rose and Wes Unseld each won it at 22 years old, and several other players were 23 when honored. James was 24 when he won his first MVP award.

Wembanyama will turn 23 during his fourth season, so if he wins the award even earlier than Smith predicts, he could become the youngest NBA MVP ever.

Even if Wembanyama fails to live up to the overwhelming hype, one NBA executive reportedly thinks the youngster will still become a top 10 player in the league.

Of course, his hopes of winning MVP need to coincide with major improvement from the Spurs as a team. San Antonio was 22-60 last season and hasn’t made the playoffs since 2019. But with head coach Gregg Popovich recently signing a five-year extension and the chance to surround Wembanyama with some new talent, the Spurs could rebuild themselves back into contention quickly.

“I think in four years, they will be good,” Smith said of the Spurs. “They will be good enough to contend. … They might have another player with him. He will know the league. There will be no LeBron James. There will be no Steph Curry. There will be no Kevin Durant at their heights. So, in four years…he will be the MVP of the league.”

It is extremely rare for a player to win NBA MVP while playing for a losing team, so Smith needs to have the second part of his prediction come true for the first part about Wembanyama quickly winning the award to have any realistic chance. But based on the potential of the budding star, it’s impossible to rule out Smith’s take.

Share This Article
Mike is a veteran journalist who has focused on New York sports. He has covered the NBA and NFL for almost three decades and is still waiting for the next championship for the Knicks and Jets.