One NBA executive is urging caution when it comes to the vast array of accolades about the potential of top prospect Victor Wembanyama.
Adam Finkelstein of 247 Sports looked at the 2023 NBA Draft Combine and pointed out the executive’s measured response to the hype surrounding Wembanyama.
“Some of the hyperbole is pretty overwhelming,” the executive said. “He is an incredible prospect, but let’s see if his body holds up before we put some of these narratives on him.”
Wembanyama has been the focus of intense media attention for the past few years. That’s due to the combination of skills that he’s shown on the court and the potential it offers.
At 7-foot-4, the French big man can play inside, shoot outside and deliver solid defense. All of that helps explain why the controversial strategy of tanking was mentioned multiple times during the 2022-23 regular season.
Yet, as the anonymous executive noted, the ominous prospect of injuries is something that needs to be taken into account when projecting Wembanyama’s future.
One look at NBA history shows countless examples of top draft picks that were seemingly destined for greatness. Instead, those players’ promising futures were short-circuited by injuries that either had a major effect on their careers or ended them prematurely.
Names like Sam Bowie and Greg Oden usually come up when the topic is discussed. Both players were chosen by the Portland Trail Blazers and watched as injuries destroyed the potential greatness the team envisioned.
In the case of Bowie, the agony over his injury-plagued career was especially acute. That’s because after the Trail Blazers chose Bowie with the second pick of the 1984 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls selected the legendary Michael Jordan.
More recently, the health struggles of Zion Williamson with the New Orleans Pelicans are a clear example of why the danger of injuries has to be taken into consideration.
Williamson arrived in the NBA as the top pick of the 2019 NBA Draft, with plenty of fanfare also surrounding his arrival.
Yet, the start of his NBA career was delayed until January 2020 due to injury, and in four seasons, he’s played in only 114 regular season contests.
Williamson may yet fulfill the potential once envisioned, and Wembanyama may be able to avoid a similar fate in the years ahead. However, not looking at the injury dangers for Wembanyama fails to take such possibilities into account.