Matchups between projected No. 1 and No. 2 NBA draft picks don’t often happen and usually don’t live up to the hype. Be it overzealous referees, injuries or nerves, it’s rare to see players rise to the moment and show what truly makes them special in the most pressure-packed environments of their young careers. LeBron James facing off against Carmelo Anthony in a high school showcase in February 2002 is the gold standard many NBA executives point to as the most memorable prospect matchup they’ve ever witnessed. Until this past week.
In front of 200 scouts and executives from NBA teams, Scoot Henderson’s G League Ignite vs. Victor Wembanyama’s Metropolitans 92 in Las Vegas ended up being just as good as its St. Vincent-St. Mary vs. Oak Hill predecessor 20 years ago.
Wembanyama showed everything that makes him the most highly regarded prospect in years, with two extraordinary performances that included 73 points in 70 total minutes, demonstrating the most diverse offensive skill set we’ve ever seen from a 7-footer this age.
No shot was too difficult for the nearly unguardable 7-foot-4 big man with an 8-foot wingspan, whether it was creating his own one-on-one; spinning with his back to the basket; finishing lobs well above the rim; making 3-pointers pulling up off the dribble; executing sharp step-back jumpers; or running, catching and releasing from impossible vantage points with incredible footwork, body control and touch. Wembanyama also handled the ball in pick-and-roll, pushed off the defensive glass and found the open man from the perimeter. On the other end of the floor, he showed exceptional timing and mobility while putting a lid on the rim, blocking several jump shots and causing Ignite players to think twice about attacking the paint anytime he was on the floor.
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