NBA

LeBron James raves about No. 1 prospect Victor Wembanyama after seeing him play: ‘Like an alien’

LeBron James was so impressed with what he saw from Victor Wembanyama, the favorite to go No. 1 in the 2023 NBA Draft, after his 37-point eruption on Tuesday that he ditched the extra-special “unicorn” label and veered straight into extraterrestrial-level comparisons.

“Everybody’s been a unicorn over the last few years,” said James on Wednesday, “but [Wembanyama] is more like an alien.”

And yes, that was indeed a compliment. Wembanyama had 37 points, led the game in blocks and made seven of his 11 3-point attempts in a long-anticipated head-to-head against No. 2 draft prospect Scoot Henderson. Henderson for his part had 28 points and nine assists and led his G League Ignite team to a win, but Wembanyama’s size, shooting and fluidity were the story of the night in what turned out to be one of the most illuminating and exciting prospect matchups in recent memory.

“No one has ever seen anyone as tall as he is but as fluid and as graceful as he is out on the floor,” added James. “At 7-4, 7-5, 7-3, whatever the case may be, his ability to put the ball on the floor, shoot stepback jumpers out of the post, stepback 3s, catch-and-shoot 3s, block shots, he’s for sure a generational talent.”

Wembanyama for years has been viewed in NBA circles as one of the most exciting prospects since — who else? — James himself when he came straight to the NBA out of high school in 2003. And while that comparison has often been made given that James is always the frame of reference that we anchor ourselves to given just how great a prospect he was two decades ago, it still didn’t quite feel apt. Not until we saw Tuesday what Wembanyama did in his first live-action to be played on U.S. soil, anyway.

“You can tell he loves the game,” said James. “He was smiling a lot playing the game. I think it was the two best players in the draft. They both did their thing.”

In fewer words, NBA commissioner Adam Silver on Thursday morning when asked about Wembanyama summed up very nicely just how special a talent he thinks the French sensation is.

“Oh, my,” said Silver in a press conference ahead of a preseason game in Abu Dhabi being played between Atlanta and Milwaukee. “He certainly has all the attributes of a true game-changer. … I know that many of our NBA teams are salivating at the notion that potentially, through our lottery, they could get him, so they should all compete very hard next season.”



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