2023 NBA Draft: Five takeaways after two clashes between Victor Wembanyama, Scoot Henderson in Las Vegas – CBS Sports

2023 NBA Draft: Five takeaways after two clashes between Victor Wembanyama, Scoot Henderson in Las Vegas - CBS Sports

The second of two head-to-head matchups this week with No. 1 prospect Victor Wembanyama and No. 2 prospect Scoot Henderson, the clear (for now!) prizes of the 2023 NBA Draft class, went a little late Thursday afternoon with Henderson got injured in the first half and is not coming back. But Wembanyama grabbed the spotlight down the stretch in the final exhibition game between his Mets 92 team and the G League Ignite, turning in 36 points and putting on a dazzling display in the process to solidify his standing — sort of. LeBron James could put it — as the most interesting alien of next year’s draft class.

Wembanyama made seven 3s in the first showdown on Tuesday en route to a 37-point outburst and followed it up by nailing just two triples in his encore on Thursday, his second contest on American soil. But from start to finish it was probably an even more impressive display than his first. The dream shake, the backstep, the fadeaway, the swing-in-the-stands — he had a little bit of everything working. Wembanyana expertly split his defenders on offense and affected almost everything that came into his space on defense. It was so dominant but looked so effortless, the hyperbole will surely reach deafening levels after (another) amazing display. . . and it’s hard not to agree with most of it. He looks like the generational talent he has long been billed as.

Henderson’s early injury on Thursday derailed what was unmistakably a great week for him and Wembanyama, but he also did serious damage on Tuesday and got off to a good start before going flat.

There are sure to be some declarative statements made after what we’ve witnessed the past few days — some of which may very well be proven right! — but I will reserve such statements for a later date. I do, however, have a few takeaways from what we saw on the court this week (and what it could mean in the coming months). So let’s dive into five takeaways.

1. Henderson split Thursday

G League Ignite got the win over Mets 92 on Tuesday and Henderson had nine assists and 28 points in that effort, but he couldn’t try to replicate that showing like Wembanyama after injuring his knee early in the game. Henderson exited after playing just five total minutes and left with one rebound, one assist and 0-for-2 shooting.

The good news is that Henderson was reported as “day to day” after the game. He has a bone bruise that is not considered long-lasting.

Henderson has done very well for himself this week overall yet. His pace and control of the game on Tuesday was evident late in the contest and he was a huge reason G League Ignite was able to cruise to victory. He emphasized getting his teammates involved, controlled tempo effortlessly and played with such an edge and IQ that he knew exactly when his team needed him to take over.

2. Wembanyama defense ➡️ offense

This is just a sample of what Wembanyama’s mobility can add to a team dynamic. There are only a handful of players on planet Earth who could do something like he does in this sequence, hitting a shot on one end and then sliding to the other to finish above the rim in transition.

He finished with four blocks, but perhaps more impressive, was a plus-26 (!) in the box score.

3. Stars weigh

If you’re in the NBA or around the NBA this week, it was impossible to ignore the goodness that came from Scoot and Wembanyama going head-to-head. So, when asked about their takes this week on Wembanyama in particular, league stars shared some pretty wide-ranging thoughts.

First, there was this from LeBron: “Everybody has been unicorns for the past few years, but [Wembanyama] is more like an alien.”

Then this, Thursday morning, from NBA commissioner Adam Silver: “Oh, my. He definitely has all the attributes of a real game changer… I know a lot of our NBA teams safe at the notion that maybe, with our lottery, they could get him, so they should all compete very hard next season.”

Then this from Stephen Curry: “He’s like a 2K create-a-player. Cheat code type vibes. He’s a solid player.”

Finally, there was this from yet another former MVP winner, Giannis Antetokounmpo: “He’s an incredible man. I think in 2045, everyone will look like Victor. The way he can shoot the ball, the way he can move, he’s extremely fast for his size, can block shots, he’s unbelievable. He has a chance to be one of the best to ever play this game. We’ve never seen anything like this before. We’ve got to get ready for this kid, he’s going to be really good.”

4. The race for No. 1

It’s been pretty clear for some time now that Wembanyama has been considered the consensus No. 1 over Henderson, but this week has further cemented his status in that regard. Yes, Henderson is a great, great prize, but he’s in a class with generationally good talent at the top ahead of him. It’s happening!

It’s not over either, just to be clear. Remember: the draft isn’t until next summer. And Wembanyama has again dealt with nagging injuries in recent years, although nothing seems chronic or long-term. It would have to be something catastrophic to remove Wembanyama from going #1, but when both LeBron and Giannis were asked about him this week, it should be noted that both in their answers clearly emphasized wishing him good health; the longevity of 7-foot-4 unicorns just seems like a complete unknown. But right now it’s Wembanyama in his own part at the top, Henderson right behind him, then everyone else.

5. Wembanyama acrobatics

Only. . . look at this

Or this:

It’s ridiculous how good Wembanyama is. The body control, the movement, the skill, the length, the production: he controls everyone the boxes Every one of them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *