Opinion: NBA’s New Favorite Player Will Haunt Your Dreams

Victor Wembanyama, number 1, stands amongst another player in the layup line before a Metropolitans 92 game on Dec. 23, 2022. Wembanyama was a consensus number-one overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft and has since been at the forefront of the NBA’s social media (Photo via Wikimedia Commons).

Victor Wembanyama is a seven-foot, four-inch tall power forward and center who has all the tangibles of a great NBA player. Wembanyama – “Wemby” for short – came into the mainstream basketball scene in the fall of 2022, after the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) G League Ignite team played the Wemby’s team, the Metropolitans 92. Ever since then, Wemby has become a topic surrounding NBA media, so much so that the NBA was televising Wemby’s games. Eventually, he became the consensus number-one overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft. 

In an NBC Sports article, Kurt Helin wrote a message that he thinks most people think about Wemby. 

“Everyone in and around the NBA has been trying to come up with player comps – Kristaps Porzingis, Ralph Sampson, Tim Duncan – but the reality is Wembanyama is one of one,” Helin wrote.

 Most NBA fans already thought of Wemby as “one of one,” due to the seven-foot, four-inch tall frame, dribbling skills and high IQ that he presented.

This amount of hype is something only seen once in a generation. The last NBA player significantly scouted and talked about to this degree was LeBron James in the early 2000s. In 2002, Sports Illustrated dubbed James “The Chosen One.” This nickname added to the hype surrounding the then-18-year-old athlete. 

When the 2003 NBA draft came around, James was the consensus number-one overall pick and was selected first by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Having taken the league by storm, James’s gifts have prompted many fans to include him in conversations about who is the greatest basketball player of all time. 

In my opinion, James was the better player coming in, but can Wemby fill those same shoes? I doubt that the hype from these social media platforms will match what Wemby can do for the game of basketball. James has an extensive collection of accolades, such as Rookie of the Year in 2004, four-time league MVP, four-time Finals MVP and four-time NBA champion. With this in mind, many fans have similar expectations of Wemby.

 Whether or not he will meet the expectations being predicted of him is a question that still needs to be answered. At the time of writing, Wemby has only played three games – and still has a lot to prove.

If we look closely at Wemby, anyone can see that he perfectly matches what an NBA player should be. His popularity translates over to social media – leading Wemby to seem like a bigger prospect than he might be. 

Anytime Wemby made a great play for the Metropolitans 92 spanning from the fall of 2022 up until the NBA draft lottery, it would be all over any sports social media account you could think of. ESPN, SportsCenter, NBA and Bleacher Report are all companies that have posted about Wemby the NBA’s official social media accounts.

 This coverage has only increased since Wemby’s arrival to the NBA. On June 22, Wemby was the first overall pick by the San Antonio Spurs. Leading up to the draft, Wemby was posted about constantly on all social media platforms; when the NBA draft lottery was happening, it was just a Wemby lottery: Which team would be able to select Wemby with the first pick? 

With Wemby in the spotlight, NBA social media was entirely focused on watching the NBA draft lottery up until the first overall pick was announced. I could blame this overposting of Wemby on an off-season drought of available content, as usually most content in rotation for NBA media tends to be trade scenarios, draft prospects and any big players that have been traded or requested a trade. But after every San Antonio Spurs game, the media would be canvased with posts of each of Wemby’s plays.

Wemby joins an elite group of power forwards and centers that have played for the San Antonio Spurs in the past – players like Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard and David Robinson, to name a few legends. 

The Wemby hype continues to grow as many NBA fans, especially San Antonio fans, expect Wemby to garner the same results as Duncan, Leonard and Robinson. Robinson, for instance, spent his entire 14-year career with San Antonio and accomplished a lot for the organization. He is a two-time NBA champion, MVP (Most Valuable Player) of the league and the 1990 Rookie of the Year. Duncan spent his 19-year career with the Spurs and is a five-time NBA champion, three-time finals MVP, two-time league MVP and the 1998 Rookie of the Year. Leonard still plays in the league today but was at the time very impactful for the Spurs. Leonard spent seven years with the Spurs and was the finals MVP when the Spurs won the NBA championship in 2014. At the least, a career like Leonard’s seems very attainable for Wemby, but a career like Duncan’s is the ceiling, in my opinion, for a player like Wemby.

I’m not saying that the hype is not deserved; Wemby is a great player, but should everything that Wemby does be posted on every social media platform known to ever exist? This Wemby oversaturation has taken away from other NBA events. Other players who play the same position as Wemby haven’t been posted as much; players like Joel Embiid, Kristaps Porzingis, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Vucevic are just a few players that have been put on the back-burner by NBA media.   

With the NBA season underway, I’m sure that the Wemby social media dominance will calm down. However, it still looks like the Wemby over-saturation for us NBA fans will stick around for a little longer.

About Seiji McSwain 8 Articles
Seiji McSwain is a first-year student from Las Vegas, Nevada and is a Sport Communication major at Albion College. He writes about any sports topics relating to the NFL, NBA, NCAA, Albion College sports and news about sports journalism. He enjoys watching sports, listening to music and video editing. Contact Seiji via email at sdm13@albion.edu

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